We are seeing play out before us the best example of the power of social media versus traditional old-school public relations. The contest is between BP and their spill in the Gulf and a Twitter site by the name of BPglobalPR. Check it out. This unofficial Twitter site has garnered more than 100,000 followers and is growing by thousands daily. BP and its traditional PR machine is lost and confused, as it watches “BPglobalPR” clean its clock.
This is a perfect example of why it is so important for everyone to be acutely savvy about social media and to understand we do not live in a 24-hour news cycle — rather, we live in a 24-minute news cycle. I’m not saying BP would be able to change how people perceive the job they’re doing, as their number one job remains cleaning up the damage. But it is interesting to think about the millions of dollars they’ve spent on traditional advertising over the past several years promoting their “beyond petroleum” campaign — and how this campaign could be completely suffocated by the power of social media. Within 9 months, we will see this Twitter account be the focus of business school case studies as a way of demonstrating how difficult it is for a company to tightly control a corporate message in today’s internet driven society.