Here’s a sobering tidbit from BP’s guide for company spokespeople dealing with oil spills: “No statement shall be made containing … Promises that property, ecology, or anything else will be restored to normal.”
The passage comes from BP’s June 2009 Gulf of Mexico Regional Oil Spill Response Plan, made available by the Minerals Management Service. Check out the monster document right here (the flacks’ guide is in Appendix X, page 528).
As one New Orleans blogger who noticed this passage points out, in a new BP television ad, CEO Tony Hayward uses the ambiguous formulation “We will make this right” — not, say, “we will restore the Gulf to its full former glory.”
Here’s the full what-not-to-say section of the BP flacks’ guide:
No statement shall be made containing any of the following: a) Speculations concerning liability for the spill or its legal consequences. b) Speculations regarding the cause of the spill. An extended inquiry may be needed to determine the actual cause, and legal liability could be affected by what is said. c) Estimates of damage and/or value expressed in dollars, production statistics, sales volume, or insurance coverage. d) Estimates of how long cleanup will take or cleanup costs. e) Promises that property, ecology, or anything else will be restored to normal. f) Do not release the name of injured or dead until next of kin have been notified.