Coal campaign far from amazing [opinion]

Mining needs a voice, but when it does speak it needs to say the right thing.

The industry faces an uphill battle when it comes to PR, with the majority of social media firmly in the anti-coal camp.

The sector, while tech savvy in terms of automation, equipment, and massive pieces of machinery, is well behind the 8-ball when it comes to social media.

At the recent Industry Dinner held during AIMEX, the head of the Northparkes mine Stef Loader explained the industry’s current predicament.

“There are some noisy people who take up a lot of airtime, but who represent a small percentage of the population…we need to tell our story, and tell it loudly,” Loader said.

But they are on the backfoot, as Michael Pascoe explained at the same event: “The industry lost a war before they even knew they were fighting a battle.”

I’m sure the Minerals Council of Australia thought it was doing the right thing when it planned a campaign to promote the industry and its commodities.

But when it puts together poorly thought-out campaigns, more harm is done than good.

This isn’t the industry’s first foray into the social media space, or our first comment on the industry’s seeming inability to make headway via twitter or facebook.

The long running back and forth over Maules Creek is a perfect example of the mining industry failing to gain a real foothold on social media as its opponents conduct a clever campaign against it.

They are still online all day, every day tweeting to Environment Minister Greg Hunt, writing blogs, and posting photos.

Using the hashtag ‘#leardblockade’, activists are constantly encouraging each other and sending out call-to-arms to the public to support their case.

What are miners doing you may ask?

Very little.

This #coalisamazing campaign signals a massive shift for the industry, and follows on from another poor PR attempt by the MCA, ‘Australians for Coal’.

In both campaigns the MCA attempted to address some of the ‘myths’ abo ut the resources and the industry itself, but all it did was open itself to ridicule, with environmentalists tearing the campaign apart on twitter.

There was a real opportunity to reach people, and they missed it. Completely. Both times.

If you get a chance, trawl through twitter with the #coalisamazing to see some of the ways it’s been torn apart.

Mining is an essential industry for Australia, and it needs to demonstrate the multitude of ways that it supports Australia, and the importance of the various commodities.

If it can do that right then Australia will support it.

By being on the front foot and not giving a blinkered approach the industry can get some of its facts into the debate.

But campaigns need to be honest and show the great things that mining provides, as well as admit that there are some aspects that aren’t so great and acknowledge that as and industry it is working to rectify these issues.

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