Archive for July, 2010

BP’s Cleanup Effort Should Include Corporate Communications

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

While BP is busy cleaning up the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the leadership should also make cleaning up corporate communications a top priority. The Wall Street Journal reports that, following BP’s pledge to be “open and transparent,” the company has released doctored photos purporting to show off its diligence in the cleanup effort. But the company has touted its work–not once, not twice, but three times so far as is known–with photos that have been altered.

A corporate communications team that would issue obviously touched up and faked shots either doesn’t understand the meaning of “open and transparent” or doesn’t care and clearly could benefit from a cleanup of its own. It’s no secret that today’s public are well-educated, sophisticated consumers who watch a company’s actions very carefully and can spot a lack of integrity in a hearbeat.

It’s past time for BP to get its act together. A lack of commitment to honesty and, yes, openness and transparency, only harms “big oil’s” image and the image of corporate leadership in general–not to mention BP’s credibility. If their corporate communications team isn’t able to support the leaders in walking their talk, the communications group itself should be cleaned up. At the very least they should kept quiet so the company can keep the focus on getting the job in the Gulf done.

Telling A Great Story Earns Millions

Monday, July 12th, 2010

One woman’s story earns her nonprofit organization $10 million per year, according to Nancy Lublin, author of the new book Zilch. Elaborating on how to “get what you want for nothing,” Lublin explains that nonprofits are experts at raising money with no promise of material goods. The reward is in helping others.

Take the case of Zainab Salbi, founder and CEO of Women for Women International, whose father was the pilot for Saddam Hussein. Lublin credits Salbi’s ability to tell her personal story with raising funds for her organization, which helps women and children victimized by conflict in various parts of the world.

Salbi uses three essential techniques of good storytelling to win support from complete strangers: 1) her mission is compelling, 2) her own story is engaging, and 3) she’s specific about which segment of the population she’s helping (and she also allows donors to choose a specific group in a particular part of the world where they want their own donations to be used).

As Lublin says in a current issue of “Fast Company”, “Smart companies weave such narratives into the ask — and the organization at large.” How can you put stories to work for your company or nonprofit?