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Mis-Communicator of the Week: Bob Dudley BP CEO

21st January 2016


What role should a chairman or chief executives play in the media? Clearly their first job is to represent their businesses and be fantastic ambassadors. They must also show leadership and communicate calm authority in a crisis. To do this well they must recognise that, due to their seniority, they need to be able to talk to multiple audiences - investors, staff, customers - all at once. So they need to be knowledgeable about their business, their competitors and wider issues that impact on them and their customers.

Anything missing maybe? Should a senior leader of a global business also go beyond this and be an expert on geo-political issues or subjects not directly related to their business? Or should they go further still, stand above their peers, and become a de facto spokesperson for their entire industry in a bid to position their business as that industries leading business?

Many try, whether through a desire to build a personal brand or a belief that they are helping to position their business in a positive way. Some - Bob Diamond ex of Barclays springs to mind - do this so well that they become targets for opponents and the media.

On the BBC News this week their business editor, Kamal Ahmed, is in Davos at the World Economic Forum annual jamboree. Each night he sits down with a business big-wig, including this week’s award winner, Bob Dudley.

Mr Dudley is the boss of BP who are one of those companies who don’t always do so well in the media. While the BP chief executive talked about energy prices he also held court about the forthcoming EU referendum even making a prediction about the outcome. While Mr Dudley spoke calmly and with an air of authority does it do a business such as BP, which is still rebuilding its reputation after a succession of major crises, harm to step into the political arena in this way? I would argue it does and prevented Mr Dudley doing the job he should have done which is acting as an ambassador for BP and its thousands of staff. For that I make Bob Dudley my Mis-Communicator of the Week.

Mis-Communicator of the Week is written by Edward Staite.



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