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.
- identifying other messengers to carry positive messages about oil and gas to a skeptical public; university professors, she said, polled the highest and are well positioned in that regard.- broadening the sources of information for executives — “We have sources we are comfortable with,” she said, “and they reinforce our views. We need to go beyond that, even if it makes our blood boil, so we can learn the language used by our opposition and learn what they think. These nuts make up about 90 percent of our population, so we can’t really call them nuts any more. They’re the mainstream.”- respecting industry critics — “Historically, the industry has been dismissive of its critics,” she said. “We have to understand that they are well-intentioned and believe in what they are doing.”- recognize the emotional nature of the discourse — “It’s ineffective to respond to emotion with science. We need empathy and we have to recognize that emotional is not irrational.”reframe the issue of hydraulic fracturing in economic terms — “We need to talk about how energy is the building block of our economy.”- engage in dialogue about hydraulic fracturing more broadly — “Engage with people with people not necessarily to change their minds, but to learn what they know and think. That will inform what works.”- reposition the industry to appeal more broadly to young people — “The issue is serious, but we shouldn’t take ourselves so seriously. We need to become much more clever. Our industry is going to have to become hipper.”
The tensions splitting supporters and opponents of fracking have never been more clear, yet, instead of focusing the time and resources necessary to respond to these concerns over human and environmental health, the industry is gearing up for a public relations battle to put the tar sands committee to shame. But that battle, we already know, has been lost.