David Fenton has just released a new book that is a combination biography, photo journal, and accounting of lessons learned during 50 years in the PR business. He tells the stories of his numerous campaigns over the years and tries to boil down what works to capture media attention and advance progressive causes, and what doesn't. I chat with him about it.
This was perfect timing, I listened to this on Tuesday, and on both Wed and Thur ended up in conversations with folks in the Seattle area wishing they could get into climate work but bemoaning that fact that they work in advertising/marketing and don't have any useful skills... It was amazing to be able to point them directly to this!
Brilliant. Thanks. A call to action for improved communications. Got me to subscribe, finally. And a book Christmas present pointer for my PR/climate concerned family.
Loved hearing about the "Free John Sinclair" concert for the first time in ages. I used to deliver papers to Sinclair's house (White Panther Party - boy, would that take on a different meaning in 2022!).
I've known Dave for decades -- a smart, dedicated, resourceful opinion leader in environmental and clean energy. Good write up - Scott Sklar, The Stella Group, Ltd, Prof, GWU
David I have a related show / interview suggestion. The Fenton interview got me thinking about how Big Tobacco was eventually forced via successful litigation to fund an anti-smoking tv ad campaign, website, etc. https://www.thetruth.com/
I'm wondering if anyone has tried to repeat that tactic for Big Oil. I found a Guardian op-ed piece on this topic from July written by Sharon Eubanks, who was apparently the lead counsel for that tobacco case. I would love to hear more about this if possible. Please consider having her on as a guest. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jul/05/us-lawsuit-big-tobacco-big-oil-fossil-fuel-companies
Also, if I'm reading this other article correctly Big Tobacco is also now having to distribute "corrective statements" to be posted at ~200,000 tobacco retail outlets. I'm daydreaming about Exxon, Shell, Chevron, etc having to post on their gas pumps that they've been actively deceiving the world about the the health and environmental impacts of greenhouse gas emissions for 40+ years .....
What great stories! The hesitancy to discuss nukes may have provided some evidence for why it's hard (impossible?) for the left to ever settle on a simplified, digestible, and relatable message. Fenton did just that with "NO NUKES" back in the day. It rallied masses (for better or worse) behind two monosyllabic words. But that message has become splintered (for good reasons) over the years to the where it can't easily be discussed — even on an energy podcast between likeminded friends! (FWIW, I'm thankful David skirted it)
But if this were a rightwing podcast, the podcast host would have gleefully jumped aboard the train of the progenitor of a successful public conscience changing campaign (not suggesting David should have)...even if they didn't necessarily believe in it! Tribe over truth. Color within the lines. Follow.
Maybe progressives are defined by boring nuance and pluralism because progressive change is boring, nuanced, and pluralistic!
David (or anyone), do you know of any organizations that are doing the kind of climate PR work that you guys describe in the podcast?
Nice. Useful. I bought the book. And remembered the concert at Rocky Flats in 1979, singing of "...the warm power of the sun; the restless power of the wind." And here I am in 2022 reading young reporters in "mainstream media" dissing them. As renewable power is now somewhat "establishment," the opposition to them is making itself out as a virtuous protest against big utilities, out-of-state corporations, etc., while upholding local rural virtues. The reporters seem unable to find defenders of solar and wind farms, and repeat anti-renewables mis/disinformation and downright hysteria.
I fear that without good PR campaigns, many of rural counties will go the way of:
which notes the influence of a few Facebook groups.
This ends up last week with a 3:1 vote against any wind in their county, stopping a 100 turbine wind farm well along in planning.
So I guess I'll take DF's advice and complain to the Sun and the Herald as a start. Do letters to the editor matter any more? But I'm not the most social guy, so beyond that, it's hard for me. Maybe the wind and solar biz needs to hire Fenton Communications or these non-profits with huge budgets for "education" on "climate crisis" need to hire them to directly promote existing solutions despite their flaws?
When David Roberts appeared on Chris Hayes' MSNBC tv show a little more than a year ago, and talked about solar and wind power, that is when I first subscribed to the Volts podcast. Dave being on that show tremendously inspired me. Dave, can you ask MSNBC if you could appear again (you also had an illustration page with you)?
Just finished listening, bittersweet, considering all those missed communications opportunities. One lightbulb: that TV commercials aren't really that expensive or out of reach, let alone PR released on Youtube or social media. But first comes the agreement to launch a unified message (around 'pollution' as the key word) and reconciling the intellectuals and scientists in the institutions to accept that our message must be a 'bumper sticker', not a dissertation.
Great program! I'm going to get the Fenton book.
I swear I'm not being cynical for the hell of it, but if Dave is right and all "the left" needs to do is create a strong unified message, then _why is that not happening?_ It's not that weird an idea. He's not the first or only person to think of it. There's no real argument against it. It should be happening already.