Is PPC a Good Option for Crisis Management?

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clickOver the past 6 months or so, we’ve been privy to 2 of the biggest PR nightmares you can imagine. At the beginning of the year, Toyota was sweating under the spotlight as malfunctioning gas pedals in their vehicles led to several serious auto crashes. The story just kept getting worse and worse, and Toyota was really just hanging on for dear life as they rode it out.

Now, we’re smack dab in the middle of another PR disaster. The oil spill. This time it’s BP that is drawing the criticism from the public, the media, and the government. And while BP’s first strategy was to play the blame game, they seem to be finally realizing they need to take things in their own hands and start working to repair their image.

PPC: The Common Bond

While these 2 nightmarish scenarios are completely different from one another, there is at least one thing they share in common. That is that both Toyota and BP started buying paid search ads in Google and Yahoo to help reach out to internet users, letting them know what they’re doing to resolve their issues.

Let’s start with Toyota’s PPC strategy. In the face of all the recalls, Toyota bought top AdWords placement for terms such as “Toyota recall” and “Toyota Prius recall.” They created a special landing page on their website with Toyota recall news, helping consumers get the facts about the recalls and to clearly see what Toyota was doing to solve the issue once and for all.

Reach More Journalists

Perhaps taking a cue from Toyota, BP recently began buying paid search results for terms like “oil spill.” Now, whenever searchers are looking for information on this disaster, the first thing they see is a link to a special BP landing page where they can learn more about “how BP is helping.”

Too Much Corporate Speak

While I think it’s a smart move to buy paid search ads during a PR crisis, I’m not fully satisfied with BP’s execution of their PPC campaign. When you click on their paid search ad, you’re taken to a page that’s full of press releases and videos. It’s all a bunch of corporate, technical speak.

The problem with this is that’s not what the average searcher wants to see. There’s no effort on BP’s part to reach out to the average person…to be personal and authentic. Everything on the page is the same old, same old carefully-planned corporate speak. It’s hardly what millions of outraged citizens want to hear.

The Benefits of PPC During a PR Disaster

Despite BP’s less-than-perfect execution of their PPC campaign, they are definitely onto something. Buying PPC ad space can be a very savvy move if you’re dealing with a PR crisis. It allows you to instantly jump up to the top of the search results.

Here are some tips for pulling it off as best as possible.

  • Use Google Trends and other tools to see which keywords are getting search volume
  • Don’t overlook negative terms (e.g. “ABC Company sucks”)
  • Create clear ads that let readers know what your landing page is about
  • Ditch the corporate speak on your landing page. Now is the time to connect with your audience on a personal level.

What do you think about BP’s decision to buy search ads? Is PPC a good tool for crisis management?

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Grab your free 160-page copy of the Big Press Release Book – Press Releases for Every Occasion and Industry here:

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