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.”

Featured Speakers

A long list of distinguished speakers will be present at the conference. Some of the highlighted speakers include the following:

  • Michael D. Kehs: Vice President of Strategic Affairs & Public Relations for Chesapeake Energy
  • Matt Pitzarella: Director of Corporate Communications & Public Affairs for Range Resources
  • John M. Christiansen: Director of External Communications for Anadarko Petroleum 
  • George Stark: Director of External Affairs for Cabot Oil & Gas
  • Blake Jackson: Social Media Coordinator for Chesapeake Energy
  • Dan Whitten: Vice President of Strategic Communications for America's Natural Gas Alliance
  • Chris Tucker: Spokesman for Energy in Depth

The is but a sample of the numerous speakers who will present at the conference.

Conference Agenda

A wide variety of topics have been chosen by the conference's organizers, a sampling of which can be seen below:

  • Understanding The Most Effective Ways To Stay Current With Regulations And Framing Them In A Way To Relay To The Public
  • Providing Case Studies To Understand The Best Methods For Using The Internet And Social Media As Part Of An Effective Crisis Communications Strategy
  • Evaluating The Influence Of NGOs And Outlining The Most Productive Strategies For Dealing With Them
  • Evaluating The Influence Of NGOs And Outlining The Most Productive Strategies For Dealing With Them
  • Providing A Case Study On Re-Building Trust In Communities After An Event To Minimize Negative Press And Protect Company Image
  • How To Protect An Unconventional Oil & Gas Brand Online And Mitigate The Threat Of A Negative Social Media Campaign To Minimize The Potential For Brand Damage

Again, this is but a sample of the numerous topics up for discussion as part of the conference's agenda.

Conference Goal: Re-frame the Debate on Fracking

In an email blast written to prospective attendees of the conference, Michael Basile, Media and Stakeholder Relations Hydraulic Fracturing Initiative Co-Chair and Managing Member of Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC, outlined the overarching goal of the conference, stating,

Despite considerable efforts by individual companies and trade groups alike to analytically educate and inform the public as to both the process of fracking and the tremendous economic upside associated with shale drilling, there continues to be misinformation force fed to the public leading to distrust and hostility toward the industry. In short, it is clear that we need more effective, cohesive and coordinated media and communication strategies.

The opportunities presented at the upcoming conference truly represent a new communication dynamic - a new set of tactics and points of engagement. [This] is the first step toward reshaping a new communications paradigm and thus an event you cannot afford to miss. 

In a bit over a month, various natural gas industry communications professional will head to Houston to strategize how to reframe the conversation on natural gas in what they feel is a more reasonable and fair direction. This will be very interesting to follow. Stay tuned.