Thursday, January 19, 2012

Transparency Faux Pas: Disclosure Matters

I spend a good bit of time in this space critiquing the performance of others. It seems only fair that when I make a boneheaded move that I share it.

The other day, New York Times Columnist Joe Nocera wrote a column titled “BP Makes Amends” about the company’s actions since the disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010.

I posted the link to my Facebook page and you can see below what I wrote. What I didn’t do was disclose that BP is one of my clients. In fact, I spent most of the spring and summer of 2010 in the Gulf working for the company as it responded to the spill. I did interviews on behalf of BP and worked very closely advising several senior company execs. (Disclosure: not that one)

I post a lot of links to stories I find interesting. Very few of those do I have any connection with other than I liked the story. I thought in this case that most of my Facebook friends know me and know I worked the spill. Peter King is a top flight reporter for CBS News. I've worked with him over the years through my work in the Space Shuttle program and work for BP during the spill.

I know better and Peter was right to point that out. 

Personal and professional lives are intertwined these days. There's rarely any harm that comes from transparency. Good reporters (like Peter) use their social networks like most of us do: to do their jobs. 

I'm proud that I was a very small part of the most comprehensive oil spill response in history. That's why I wanted to share the story. 

Disclosure doesn't have to be arduous or overwrought, it just needs to be clear like: (Disclosure: BP is a client)

When it comes to transparency always remember that what you leave out can obscure what you want people to see. 

Thanks for the reminder, Peter. 

Bill Salvin


  1. Thanks for serving as a good example for all of us, Bill. Nicely done!

  2. Thanks, Flex. I appreciate the comment and you taking time to read and post.