Recently, BP has come under fire for spending upwards of $50M on a PR campaign to get in better standing with the public. This action has been met with outrage, questioning why funds are being spent on anything but the cleanup.
This is a very interesting and complex issue. The Boycott BP Facebook page has 450K+ members and counting. The story of ineffectual management on BP's side gets more deplorable as additional facts are uncovered. And the lawsuits coming from this action will likely result in billions of dollars of damages over multiple years.
Yet, BP also has a responsibility to its shareholders, to protect the rapidly diminishing value of their shares. If they believe a PR campaign can get less people to Boycott BP and thus more profits to pay off these impending liabilities, they are duty-bound to follow up on those actions.
We may not like it, but it is a dereliction of duty (another one) if they do not do everything they can to keep the company afloat and profitable. Its too early to tell if they will come through this catastrophe, but the whole episode provides many interesting business lessons, before and after the incident.
Aveek Guha, President, MBA Day Camp
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