The Ultimate Free Agent: @BPGlobalPR

Cleaning up oil spills is expensive. Buying judges so we can keep drilling? Relatively cheap. than a minute ago via web

BP’s onslaught of ads claiming responsibility continue to drown our media pipes. Their online use of social media — adamant broadcasted messaging on conversational media forms — infuriates online citizens. But one person – Leroy “@BPGlobaPR” Stick – continues to lampoon BP’s efforts, turning the despicable into the ridiculous.

In Beth Kanter and Allison Fine‘s new book The Networked Nonprofit, they talk about the concept of Free Agents, individuals who crash into the walls of traditional nonprofits using social media tools. These agents force change by breaking control paradigms and having conversations with people, building their own movements.

As Leroy Stick demonstrates, the Free Agent concept goes beyond the nonprofit world and extends to the larger social media ethos. His @BPGlobalPR effort represents the ultimate free agent. An argument can be made that Stick has done and continues to do more to hold BP (and frankly the Obama administration) to accountability online than any other organization or entity.

In his one major public discussion of his actions (Leroy Stick is an anonymous handle), Stick explains his motives: “I started @BPGlobalPR, because the oil spill had been going on for almost a month and all BP had to offer were bullshit PR statements. No solutions, no urgency, no sincerity, no nothing. That’s why I decided to relate to the public for them.”

Communications pundits have chased their own tails in circles analyzing the impact of Stick’s efforts. One thing remains certain. BP can’t tweet its way into good graces.

As I mentioned in my interview with NPR on the topic, when you have a two-way channel like Facebook or Twitter, you’re expected to have a conversation. You have to embrace everyone, positive AND negative. When people feel ignored, their anger just grows. And that’s exactly what BP continues to do — broadcast and not talk. Most of us stopped listening a long time ago.

Geoff Livingston is a regular contributor to the Live Earth blog.