Social media … detrimental to PR practitioners? ( BP case study)

Press Conference on Day 100 of BP Oil Spill, 7/28/10

Press Conference on Day 100 of BP Oil Spill, 7/28/10

Social media as mentioned in the earlier posts helps organisation in creating a closer and stronger relationship with their public. However, it could also have adverse impacts on an organisation and on its reputation. Indeed, as mentioned in previous posts, social media is a dynamic platform whereby information flows very quickly and easily. If PR practitioners underestimate the impact of social media, they could end up having to deal with major crises. The example below looks at the case study of British Petroleum (BP) after the oil spill in 2010.

One of the most famous PR disasters in recent years is how BP handled the oil spill case in April 2010 along the Gulf of Mexico. Not only did BP have to deal with the crisis from the biggest offshore oil spill in US history, but they also had to face backlash from the ineffective and inefficient PR crisis management. Indeed their first reaction to this crisis was to filter and spin the information provided to the media as well as trying to cover up the extent of the damages. This strategy was proven to be unsuccessful and prejudicial to BP because only hours after the oil spill, the hash-tag #oilspill on twitter showing the actual extend of damages. Several parody videos of the event also went viral on social media as shown in the video below. Indeed the cover up was quickly unveiled by social media users hence amplifying the crisis. All throughout the peak of the crisis, they did not acknowledge the importance of social media and of actually communicating true information to their public. BP did not have a social media team per se before the crisis hence resulting in an even more severe crisis.

However, once BP realised the importance of social media in controlling and de-escalating the situation, they set up Facebook and Twitter pages which allowed the public to express their frustration and anger about the situation as a way of dealing with the crisis. This helped them in dealing with the crisis. Besides they also set up a YouTube channel with regular updates about the situation in the Gulf of Mexico and the consequent measures take to prevent the occurrence of such an event in the future. Despite measures taken to deal with the situation even 5 years after the crisis, BP has to deal with a tarnished reputation and it might take a long time to re-establish the public’s confidence and trust in the organisation.


But… “Who wears the pants?”

Relationship Status Series

As we know, the relationship between the entity (or business) and its consumers has progressed from one-way to two-way communication as a result of the internet and social media use in particular. You could say that when entities and consumers were in their one-way communication relationship that the entity ‘wore the pants’. So this raises an important point, with social media becoming the new intermediary in the relationship… Who wears the pants now?   Continue reading

To Tweet or not to Tweet: The evolution of Web 2.0

Are bloggers THE bridge to POSITIVE brand reputation?

Jason Howie. Instagram and other social media apps [image]. Retrieved from:

Jason Howie. Instagram and other social media apps [image]. Retrieved from:

In order to build an online brand reputation, an effective strategy can be to engage with influential bloggers and personalities within the social media landscape.

CosMediTour is an Australian business providing a service to arrange overseas aesthetic procedures (surgical and non surgical)  in tropical Thailand, where the price is right and the sun is bright.

CosMediTour recently engaged popular hairdresser, model and blogger Rhiannon Langley to share her experience with rhinoplasty surgery through CosMediTour on her blog and Instagram, which has 191k followers.

‘The higher the social presence, the larger the social influence that the communication partners have on each other’s behaviour,’ explain Kaplan & Haenlein (2010, p. 61).

Previously, there has been substantial controversy surrounding CosMediTour and whether it is promoting unsafe surgical procedures.

An example is Australian Society Plastic Surgeons president Dr Tony Kayne, who said, ‘We’re concerned about whether these people are getting safe surgery we are seeing more and more unhappy customers coming back from overseas.’

Rhiannon featured photos and posts of her experience on Instagram, which attracted large-scale media attention from outlets such as The Daily Mail AustraliaCosmopolitan and Huffington Post, as well as a social media frenzy – Rhiannon’s first post-op post gained 1,628 likes and 516 comments. That’s a whole lot of exposure!

She tagged her photos with the catchy hash tag #rhiannongetsrhino, where her followers and interested groups can easily track her progress on Instagram.

Rhiannon’s posts featured her surgery aftermath, spliced between her and her partner sunning themselves up in their luxury tropical resort. Suddenly, surgery has become a holiday, and bruises in a bikini are the latest trend.

By engaging with Rhiannon and her strong social media presence, CosMediTour have gained access to her network, and the potential to influence publics and their perception toward the CosMediTour brand.

‘Closely related to the idea of social presence is the concept of media richness… the assumption that the goal of any communication is the resolution of ambiguity and the reduction of uncertainty,’ (Kaplan & Haenlein. 2010, p. 61).

This online campaign has the potential to transform the idea behind their brand from something scary and unknown, to an exotic and relaxing ‘journey’ in Thailand.

By engaging in ambient publicity and opening communication in a highly social platform such as Instagram, CosMediTour is creating a passage for discourse and influence – especially considering the younger demographic of Rhiannon’s followers.

CosMediTour has featured promotional posts on their own blog with links to Rhiannon’s social media profiles, as well as featured news articles.

Its first post was on April 17, 2015 where they announced their latest client, Rhiannon. There have been five posts on Rhiannon’s social media journey within the last month on the CosMediTour blog.

Rhiannon’s vlogs are featured on the CosMediTour YouTube account.


Kaplan. A. M. & Haenlein. M. (2010). “Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media.” Business Horizons (53). 59-68

The Rise of Mobile 2.0: Keep it Snappy on Social Media

Image source: Flikr Creative Commons

Image source: Flikr Creative Commons

The 5pm peak hour trains departing from Flinders Street Station all have something in common. Can you guess what? Passengers are consumed with their mobile phones. The window scenery blurs as fingers skilfully scroll through the daily news feed of social media platforms. Continue reading

Brushing with Beauty Bloggers

Why Aren't You Blogging?

Bloggers are being viewed more and more as the most credible source within the world of social media. With a large and loyal following, the words of bloggers are being taken as holy. What eye cream should I buy? Where is he eating that burger? What shade of lipstick is she wearing? For all of these questions and many more we turn to our trusted bloggers for the answer. Continue reading

Cut to the Chase – Gaining Word of Mouth Referrals in an Overcrowded Social Media Space

We all know that word of mouth is the most effective medium for gaining new customers and generating leads. But as more businesses compete on social media for attention, gaining the trust and support of new customers becomes increasingly difficult and time consuming. Thankfully, brand new Australian social media site Recomazing may hold the solution:

Continue reading