Greg Matusky, founder and president of Gregory FCA, is a PR guy. His company, located in the suburbs just west of Philadelphia, is ranked “one of the nation’s top 30 PR agencies” – at least that’s what he claims on his website.
Yesterday Matusky posted an essay about how the image of Marcellus Shale seems to have hit some headwinds in the court of public opinion. A bit of a mixed metaphor, but we get the picture.
“Are we winning or losing the public relations battle on Marcellus Shale?” Matusky asks. After noting the downward slope in public opinion about drilling, he lists six steps the gas industry must take to win the PR battle for the hearts and minds of energy-hungry Americans.
The industry, Matusky says, needs to focus on publishing the facts – and lots of them. They need to stop responding to negative criticism, focus media stories on the people that the industry helps, dominate the online discussion, put things in context (he says “connect the dots”), and control the language.
“Fracking” is not a good word, says Matusky; it has too many negative connotations.
Those who think “fracking” perfectly captures what industrial shalegas production is all about have no quarrel with Matusky’s advice to the industry – it’s pretty standard for any group waging a public relations campaign.
They do, however, take exception to the way he paints gas industry critics. The problem isn’t Marcellus shale, says Matusky. It’s that “naysayers -- who often aren't under the same time constraint as gainfully employed Americans -- have more idle time to plant falsehoods, raise suspicions, and demonize the oil and gas industry.”
In one highly charged sentence Matusky pretty much dismisses the hard-working, environmentally concerned attorneys, journalists, bloggers, farmers, teachers, county supervisors, scientists, engineers, geologists, highway department workers, loggers, viticulturists, ranchers, social services workers and hunting guides who want the pace of drilling slowed down.
He certainly can’t be referring the high school teacher from Upstate NY who told me that for the past three years he has devoted what little time he has left after a busy week in the classroom to write letters and attend hearings.
For sure Matusky can’t mean the financial services representative who not only works full time but put himself through school to earn additional licenses for his job.
No way can Matusky be referring to full-time stay-at-home parents who are sacrificing their future earnings and 401K’s to raise the next generation while juggling farm chores and home-based work. Writes one such farmer, “What about those of us who value well-being as opposed to having lots of cash?”
What exactly is Matusky implying, she asks? Is he implying that people who work two jobs from home are not doing their research on the topic? Is he implying that only highly-paid PR firms can do that kind of work? Or, she asks, “is he implying that the ‘gainfully employed’ are pro-drilling? Is he inferring that the ‘gainfully employed’ don't engage in social movements?”
Maybe he’s referring to the elected representatives in Congress who fully support the EPA’s study of hydro-fracking, and who are asking the oil and gas industry to pay for the Gulf spill clean-up.