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  • BP’s Latest Bad Performance

    Well, at least Bob Dudley didn’t start out with a lie yesterday.

    BP’s managing director did a “full Ginsburg” yesterday appearing on all five major Sunday morning shows. He didn’t start out fibbing because when he was welcomed on the programs he avoided saying “it’s good to be here.”

    After that, things went down hill. Dudley clearly was not happy about being there. In the interviews he looked more like someone appearing in a hostage video rather than a confident executive explaining his company’s actions.

    We have chronicled the many (often comical) missteps of BP’s CEO, Tony Hayward, in weeks past.

    We hoped that since BP had hired some high powered PR firms to help them with their crisis that they would be less clumsy, less grating, and frankly, more apologetic. Alas, it does not seem so.

    Frankly, Dudley’s Sunday effort at explaining why BP’s “TOP KILL” effort failed was a dud.

    At 15-Seconds.com we teach our clients to always prepare at least THREE concise talking points/Quotes/Sound bites to get their message across. Wading through Dudley’s interviews only one message stands out as having been thought through in advance.

    Here it is:

    ABC “This Week”: Dudley“We failed to wrestle the beast to the ground yesterday.”

    FOX “Fox News Sunday”: Dudley“We’re all disappointed that the “top kill” operation didn’t work. We failed to wrestle this beast to the ground.”

    NBC’s “Meet the Press”: Dudley“David, we made three attempts to wrestle this beast to the ground by pumping heavy fluids in it, but we were unable to overcome the flow.”

    CNN’s “State of the Union: “Candy we are disappointed we didn’t wrestled the well to the ground last night.”

    CBS’s “Face the Nation”: Dudley somehow failed to wiggle his “beast wrestling” into the conversation.

    “Wrestling the beast to the ground,” while a memorable line, should have been followed with some form of apology that conveyed genuine remorse to the American people who are running out of patience.

    Dudley needed more ammunition than that one phrase. He needed additional, well-practiced, talking points that conveyed some sense that he and his colleagues are on top of the problem.

    We suspect Mr. Dudley was thrown to the media Sunday as BP’s sacrificial lamb of the day.

    It was good that they put someone out – but in the future they need to ensure that their spokesman is better prepared to wrestle with the media beast.


  • ESPN: Somewhere Over the Dwayne Bowe

    “They say I said what?”

    Dwayne Bowe, a wide receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs, got himself in a heap of trouble.

    ESPN The Magazine quoted him recently as saying that some of his teammates arrange for there to be “a girl in every room” when the team goes on the road. He says they call it “importing.”

    Bowe now says it ain’t so. And that he was misquoted. He told the Kansas City Star that the way the reporter: “…took it was totally not the way that I said it.”

    Nevertheless, the player apologized saying:

    “I apologize to the organization, the team, those guys who I put in a bind. My words was misunderstood and baseless and were said without malice. Everybody who know Dwayne Bowe know my personality, knows I’m a jokester, knows I like to have fun and stuff like that. Now, it taught me I got to take things serious and think before you talk because words can get you in trouble.”

    ESPN The Magazine‘s editor Gary Belsky says he has an audio tape of the interview and has offered to play it for Bowe or Kansas City Chief officials but has refused to publicly release it. They stand by their story.

    Several lessons leap out from this example.

    1. As Bowe knows (now), “words can get you in trouble.”

    2. Don’t joke about things that many folks won’t find funny — unless you are prepared to take the heat.

    3. It is a good idea to have your own tape recorder rolling at any interview so you know what you said, the context in which you said it, and so that you can prove your innocence (assuming that you are)

    4. Don’t accuse reporters of misquoting you or taking your words out of context if THEY had a tape recording running — and they pretty much got it right.

    It appears that Bowe lucked out that ESPN has elected not to release the full audio tape.