BP Oil Spill: Pay Per Click PR

Oil and Water Don’t Mix!

As we all know, for the past 70 days oil has been gushing into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon well owned by BP at a rate of up to 100,000 barrels a day (4.2 million gallons/15.9 million liters). We have watched the plume continue to grow and devastate the gulf coast destroying the livelihood of so many. Louisiana’s Barataria Bay where the stench of coagulating oil fills the air is accompanied by oil coated marshlands, tarred wildlife and decimated fisheries. The spill has already surpassed the amount of oil spilled in Prince William Sound Alaska by the Exxon Valdez in 1989, and is now officially the worst spill in U.S. history.

As BP rushes to find a solution to stop the oil from leaking, they attempt to contain the surface oil with boom and dispersants. So far, BP has already dumped 1 million gallons of Corexit 9500 and Corexit 9527 into the Gulf of Mexico and plans to dump another 805,000 gallons of these dispersants (Corexit 9500 has been completely banned by the UK?s Marine Management Organization because it is so incredibly toxic). It is being reported that 2.61 parts per million of Corexit 9500 (mixed with oil at a ratio of 1:1o) is lethal to 50% of fish exposed to it within 96 hours. That means that 1 gallon of Corexit 9500/oil mixture is capable of rendering 383,141 gallons of water highly toxic to fish. Also at some testing stations in the Gulf of Mexico, levels of benzene have been detected at over 3000 parts per billion, and levels of hydrogen sulfide have been detected as high as 1192 parts per billion (at these levels they are highly toxic to humans).

As part of BP?s damage control and reaction to public outcry, they have purchased several phrases on search engines like Google and Yahoo. The purchasing of these phrases allows BP to be the first result that appears directing information seekers to the company’s official website.  A simple search of “oil spill” will turn up several thousand results, but the first link, highlighted at the very top of the page, is from BP. “Learn more about how BP is helping,” the link’s tagline reads. But Pay Per Click campaigns are not cheap. The buying of search phrases and the cost of remaining on top for a specific search term can reach as much as $10,000 per day. This means that BP is redirecting millions of dollars to save their floundering reputation when they should be spending it all on stopping the spill from getting any worse. BP claims it is trying to help those who are most affected by the spill by providing them with accurate information, the right forms, and key people for contact. The move by BP will make it difficult for users to differentiate between BP sponsored stories and genuine factual news stories..

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