Coal and gas industry needs to get better at PR, expert says

A leading PR firm has called on the coal and gas industries to fight misinformation spread by green activist groups with a broad social media campaign.

Speaking to delegates at an Australian Pipelines and Gas Association event in Adelaide, Managing director of PR firm DeWintern Group, David Van, said industries needed to “fight fire with fire” and set the agenda about their operations.

Van said groups such as Get Up!, WWF, Greenpeace and Sierra Club, were well-organised, well-funded and had a wide reach online.

“They can drive outrage by saying how bad fracking is because they’re telling this to audiences around the world we can’t reach. They drive big, big money into their coffers,” Van said.

Van called on the coal and gas sector to build a social media campaign which told the story of the industries whilst promoting families, job security and income.  This would also make other institutions think twice before divesting from fossil fuel, a growing trend which has been promoted by green activists, Van said.

“It’s now such a big problem that we need to get together and do something. Competing industries, coal and gas, must work with farmers. It’s across the board and there’s no one group who can take this on.”

This advice was recently echoed by Nynggablack MD and former fitter and turner Warren Mundine who said it was the responsibility of the mining industry to challenge the falsehoods presented by anti-mining groups.

 “It’s not about a massive campaign and embattlement and getting out there and getting political, this is about a soft campaign, this is about talking to people, talking about what energy and mining industries do for my life,” Mundine said.

“We have a stake in the future: we’re not evil people, the mining and energy people do good things.

“That’s the sort of message we need to be talking to people about and trying to get across, that we’re not some kind of evil empire that’s out there to destroy the globe and send us to hell, we’re actually doing these things because we want to do good.”

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