Public Relations

Tue, 2011-10-04 02:26Steve Horn
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Koch Brothers "Secret Sins" Exposed In Bloomberg News Investigation

Bloomberg has released a whopping 21-page investigative and historical essay on the many crimes of the infamous Koch Brothers, their company Koch Industries and its array of subsidiaries. The feature piece in Bloomberg Markets Magazine​'s November edition, the article is titled, “Koch Brothers Flout Law With Secret Iran Sales,” although the title is a bit of a misnomer – while part of the story, the Iran angle is but a small piece of it. 

Indeed, the article leaves any person with faith in the American legal system wondering, “How could these guys not possibly be locked up in prison?” A few stunning article highlights (or lowlights) show that it's not for lack of contemptible behavior, that's for certain:

Mon, 2011-09-26 11:33Steve Horn
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"Haynesville" Shale Gas Industry Documentary Exposed on AlterNet

This weekend, AlterNet published a long investigative piece that I wrote on a documentary that has made the rounds at film festivals and conferences around the country.

Titled, “Haynesville: A Nation's Hunt for an Energy Future,” the movie has pegged itself as the host of the “middle ground” conversation on domestic natural gas drilling, using the Haynesville Shale, located predominantly in northwest Louisiana, as a case study.

What goes unsaid each time the film director, Gregory Kallenberg, goes on tour, is that Kallenberg is an oil and gas man, with familial industry ties in the Shreveport area dating back 80+ years. Prior to the release of this article, his gas ties have flown under the radar since the film's release in late-2009.

An excerpt from my AlterNet article explains some of this in more depth: 

Mon, 2011-09-19 18:15Steve Horn
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Natural Gas Media and Stakeholder Relations Professionals to Head to Houston

On October 31 and November 1, Houston will be abuzz with natural gas industry communications professionals arriving in the Texas city to discuss a topic of hot debate – hydraulic fracturing.

Hydraulic fracturing, often referred to as “fracking,” is the process through which natural gas, located deep within shale gas basins around the country and around the world, is procured.

Many have claimed that the fracking process has contaminated their water, and the natural gas industry has been the subject of sharp scrutiny as of late, most recently at a protest called “Shale Gas Outrage,” which took place outside of the Philadelphia Convention Center, where the Shale Gas Insight Conference was taking place.

On the heels of this most recent outburst, Public Relations, Stakeholder Relations, Community Relations, Crisis Management, Social Media, and Government Relations professionals, among others, will host a conference titled, “Media and Stakeholder Relations: Hydraulic Fracturing Initiative 2011.” It will take place at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, located in the heart of downtown Houston.

According to the conference website, the conference will focus predominately on “Giving communications professionals at unconventional oil and gas companies the tools to design a comprehensive media and stakeholder relations strategy for engaging the public on a positive image for the industry.”

Wed, 2011-09-14 12:33Carol Linnitt
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Battle for Fracking Public Perception Lost, Says Gas Industry Insider

The gas industry has not done itself any favors by downplaying the risks associated with fracking, something the industry is apparently just realizing. Labeling affected citizens ‘fracktivists’ or ‘uneducated’ in order to delegitimize their complaints has only emphasized the industry’s callousness and inability to respond to real fears in a meaningful way. People trust the industry less than ever before, and with increased drilling across the globe, discontent is becoming even more widespread.

 
Now, after more than a decade of reckless drilling mishaps and a strengthening anti-fracking movement, the industry is willing to admit they’ve lost the public perception battle. From the outside this looks like a perfect opportunity for the industry to become more transparent and accountable. Instead this admission has only strengthened the industry’s resolve to up the communications ante
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.

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