Polling For A Plan
One of my readers sent me this rather astonishing email:
Yesterday evening we got a phone call at our home. My wife answered it and
asked me if I felt like taking a survey about oil companies. She said they
wanted to speak to the man of the house. [!!!]
I took the call and it quickly began to sound to me like this was public opinion
research being done by BP to figure out the best way to address the disaster
from a PR perspective.
I was asked how I felt about Exxon, Chevron, Shell, and BP. I was asked if I
had heard about a problem in the Gulf of Mexico. I was asked who's fault I
thought it was. If you wanted me to, I could spend a few minutes trying to
remember more of the questions and the order that they came in, but the ones
that impressed me the most came near the end-- They surveyor presented about
five different engineering responses to the leak, mostly they were the ones that
have been discussed in the news reports, and after each one wanted to know if I
thought that this tactic would help to solve the problem or not.
I was genuinely shocked by this. I mean, it's one thing to spin information,
and use research data to determine a PR strategy. That's bad enough, I guess,
but whatever. We're used to that. But why on earth would they care whether I
think this or that disaster management technique would work or not? I'm a child
psychiatrist, not a deep sea drilling expert! I just want the problem to go
away! I don't know what they're going to do about it, I'm just praying that
there's something that they CAN do about it.
I'm still trying to get my head around this. Maybe they really have so little
idea about what to do about this that figuring out what will sound best to the
public is their best way to decide how to proceed?
I'm also hard pressed to understand why pollsters would ask questions that way if they weren't trying to determine which disaster management techniques would sell the best to to the public. And that is a very, very weird thing to do in the middle of the disaster.
Now, I don't know who might have been doing this. But we do know the name of one polling and PR outfit working with BP. From Michael Moore:
It's the Corporate Cash, Stupid; BP's bogus "Beyond Petroleum" greenwashing campaign was "planned and evaluated" by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, a Democratic PR firm run by veterans of the Clinton administration
I actually have no problem with PR firms being mercenaries. That's kind of what they do. But I do object to PR firms selling their partisan credentials to help those who hold values which are diametrically opposed by the majority of the Party they pretend to represent. I suppose that selling your services as a beard may be considered a form of PR, but it isn't exactly honest or respectable.
Meanwhile, while BP tries to figure out what plan child psychiatrists prefer, the Gulf gets slicker and slicker and slicker ....