Public Relations

Mon, 2011-08-22 20:05Brendan DeMelle
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Halliburton CEO Instructs Underling To Sip New Fracking Fluid At Gas Industry Conference

Halliburton Chief Executive Officer Dave Lesar touted the safety of the company’s new CleanStim fracking fluid during a keynote address at a gas industry conference in Colorado earlier this month. Lesar was so confident in the safety of CleanStim, he was willing to drink it. Er, not exactly. He didn’t imbibe himself, but handed the fracking fluid over to one of his underlings, an unnamed Halliburton executive, who took a “swig” of the fracking fluid according to the Associated Press report filed tonight.

Although Halliburton acknowledges that CleanStim is “not intended for human consumption,” it boasts that the new fracking fluid is made with “ingredients from the food industry.”

The “executive drinks own chemical” trick shows that Halliburton is clearly stepping up its PR game in the face of growing public concern over the controversial fracking process.

It is great that Halliburton has created a supposedly safe fracking fluid, don’t get me wrong. But CleanStim isn’t the formula that is in widespread use at gas fracking operations around the country right now. The public still has no clue about the exact formulas the industry is using currently (because the industry doesn’t want the public to know). But what little information we do have is that most current formulas are likely to contain a laundry list of cancer-causing chemicals.

Wed, 2011-03-30 00:31Emma Pullman
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Are Right Wingers Seriously Using Craigslist To Recruit Trolls For Canadian Election?

Today a campaign on behalf of a public relations firm to skew online debate about the Canadian election was caught using Craigslist to recruit new writers to their cause.

The series of job postings appeared in major cities across the country, and invited prospective writers to apply for jobs to post on newspaper comment sections, media forums, facebook pages, and other online outlets. The goal? To “help balance the left-wing bias of the major media outlets”.

Though the ads were promptly flagged and removed from Craigslist, we scored a screen cap

With Canada early on into an election campaign, one can only wonder on just what scale this type of organized astroturf online trolling exists.

Wed, 2010-07-14 21:18Jim Hoggan
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IPCC Fumbles Media Relations Strategy, Must Review Basic Principles of Public Relations

Andy Revkin’s revelations over the weekend about the botched media relations strategy deployed by the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Pachauri, demonstrate that the IPCC has failed to learn from its recent missteps in managing public communications.

If you don’t have anything to hide, don’t act as if you do.

Being thrust into the media spotlight and subjected to sudden intense scrutiny can rattle any organization, and the IPCC is hardly the first institution to be accused of resorting to a “bunker mentality” and evading media inquiries. But, as Revkin points out correctly, sheltering yourself from the press is bound to backfire, creating more skepticism about your activities when you should really focus on explaining your work more clearly and operating with greater transparency.

For an organization like the IPCC - which has been accused of holding information too closely to its chest - to send an open letter advising its lead authors and editors to “keep a distance from the media” demonstrates PR mismanagement at its worst. It reinforces the perception that IPCC leadership doesn’t really know what it is doing.

That’s unfortunate because the IPCC has reportedly been spending a lot of time internally reviewing its operations to increase transparency. But this memo doesn’t help demonstrate that fact, by a long shot.

Fri, 2010-06-11 17:50Jim Hoggan
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BP’s Crisis Communications Strategy Is Fundamentally Flawed

How a company handles a crisis is the ultimate test of its character. 

Does it accept responsibility for mistakes or bad decisions, work to make amends and to improve its practices moving forward? 

Or does it resort to what I call Darth Vader PR, launching a public relations offensive to spin the public, seeking to deflect legitimate criticism?

If you fail this crisis communications test, as BP has recently, it usually indicates underlying character problems in your organization.  It demonstrates that you are out of touch with the momentous shift of social norms towards a more sustainable economic and environmental future. 
 
The New York Times reported recently that BP CEO Tony Hayward is in the crosshairs for his repeated gaffes and BP’s alleged cover-ups:

“Instead of reassuring the public, critics say, Mr. Hayward has turned into a day-after-day reminder of BP’s public relations missteps in responding to the crisis…
Mr. Hayward and the company have repeatedly played down the size of the spill, the company’s own role in the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, and the environmental damage that has occurred. At the same time, they have projected a tone of unrelenting optimism despite repeated failures to plug the well.”


There’s a word for that ‘unrelenting optimism’ in the face of total failure to get the job done – incompetence.  BP not only can’t plug the blowout, the company can’t even express genuine concern about the impact of its growing mess.  There’s a word for that too – insincerity.

Fri, 2010-02-05 12:19Brendan DeMelle
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ACCCE Hires New PR Firm With Bush Ties To Push Coal

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) has hired two new public relations firms to hock its message in the wake of the disastrous job done by Bonner & Associates. 

ACCCE has retained HDMK, a PR firm with very strong ties to former President George W. Bush and the Republican Party, to manage its national media efforts, while Dan Ronayne, a managing director of the Howard Consulting Group, was retained to work with regional reporters.

HDMK is run by Terry Holt, the national campaign spokesperson for George W. Bush in the 2004 election and the former spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner.  Other HDMK partners include Trent Duffy, a former deputy press secretary to President George W. Bush, Jim Morrell, former deputy chief of staff to the House Republican Conference and a speechwriter for former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL), and Chad Kolton, another long-time Republican communications operative who served in the Bush administration as press secretary at the OMB and FEMA.

Thu, 2007-07-19 01:01Jim Hoggan
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You Can't Spin Mother Nature

This is the speech that I delivered last month at the Canadian Public Relations Society's National Conference in Edmonton, Alberta.
Wed, 2006-03-15 09:27Richard Littlemore
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IPCC Seeks Information Officer

Check this Grist piece on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change looking for a new information officer. Or call up the posting directly.

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