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May 17, 2012
Perverse Energy PR Does the Craft No Credit
 
Oh, dear. Just when the nation needs a balanced approach to an issue as complex and, to many, as confounding, as climate change is, The Guardian provides a draft memo from the conservative American Tradition Institute that calls for "subversion" of the message of the wind power industry. It's true that public relations tactics are available to a range of causes, but this pro-fossil fuel approach is an example of perverse PR, without an ethical component.

"Over the past 10 years," The Guardian notes, "this issue (climate change) has become so polarized that any discussion of climate change legislation has been removed from the halls of congress." That's not healthy for any of us, and should not be viewed as a proud accomplishment of PR techniques.

Yet here's a draft "National PR Campaign Proposal" listing as one of its goals: "Cause subversion in message of (the wind) industry so that it effectively becomes so bad no one wants to admit in public they are for it (much like wind has done to coal, by turning green to black and clean to dirty.)" This sort of thing is polarization, wherever and by whomever such techniques are practiced, not public-interest PR. 

As Tom Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum explain in their new book, "That Used To Be Us: How America Fell Behind In The World It Invented and How We Can Come Back," climate change — global warming — is occurring, we just don't know how decisively: "Beyond these well-established core facts lie many uncertainties." PR needs to be functioning in the world as it is, not as a staffers for a right-wing think tank allied with the coal, oil, and natural gas industries would have it be.  

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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