Let’s Make P.R. Stand for “Promoting Responsibility”

Before the Deepwater Horizon destroyed its credibility and balance sheet, BP spent millions on green-related imagery: donations to environmental groups, solar panel experimentation, speeches on safety. It redid its logo to look like a green and yellow sunflower and cleverly recast its initials to stand for a new slogan: “Beyond Petroleum.”

We know how well that worked out. We got the Gulf disaster anyway. Not because it was inevitable. No, a million spent on a better blowout preventer would have avoided that – a mere drop compared to the gallons of money expended on commercials and lobbyists and image consultants since the accident. Lesson: Integrity is cheaper than bullshit.

Arguably, the company did its damnedest to stop the leak and continues to clean up the aftermath (at least on the visible surface). But wouldn’t the global behemoth, and the planet on which it resides, have been better off if its catch phrase had been retooled as “Beyond Publicity”? Or “Beyond Perfidy”?

There’s nothing wrong with salesmanship. It’s a necessary lubricant. Most relationships, good ones too, get their start with a little courtship. But increasingly in this hyper-marketing age (commercial, political, religious, and otherwise) we have to be on the lookout for those whose game is deception. Or even self-deception, for believing something is true doesn’t make it so – viz, all the trendy “green” campaigns we’ve witnessed recently.

When you come across falseness, you don’t necessarily need to crusade against it. You have other things to do. But you should refuse to feed the beast with your business. As Thoreau said, “It is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support.”

Shun the lobbying polluters, the Trickle-Down tricksters, the Wall Street thieves, and their ilk. Deny them your eyes, ears, mind, money and votes as much as possible. Do not lend them your sacred trust and credulity. Give a new meaning to P.R. by putting your own spin on it: promoting responsibility.

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