When posed with the challenge of coming up with a campaign to sell CSG, most people turned down the opportunity or ignored the question altogether.
The industry is facing a challenge. There are highly motivated, highly organised and extremely passionate people working against CSG.
It has reached the point that the rhetoric is reaching the masses – a largely one-sided debate perhaps neglected by the industry.
You need only look at Parliament’s recent water trigger laws, protests at a number of QGC sites and a shutdown of Metgasco and Dart Energy projects in New South Wales to see it is going to become a major challenge for industry in the coming years.
Once the ball gets rolling, there really is no stopping it.
It is undeniable that CSG is going to be an important part of Australia’s future energy mix.
Not only could it help a gas-starved east coast market, it could help Australia’s balance of payments because let’s face it – most of it is going to be exported to our high-paying Asian neighbours.
So why would people not want to weigh into this debate?
It could be that the people approached do not have anything meaningful to say, or maybe they are pushed for time. Or could it be too big an issue for anyone to tackle?
One firm that decided to weigh in was PR consultancy firm Cannings Purple. The team came up with the “Power to the People” campaign, which was designed to put the focus back on the end user.
In essence, it is about convincing people that CSG is a safe and profitable industry.
Cannings Purple suggests industry remind people that the lights do not flick on by themselves.
However, the most important point to come out of the debate is social media.
The Twitter account of Lock the Gate president Drew Hutton pulls in 1091 followers who are all privy to conversations Hutton has on the topic.
Fact or fiction, what Hutton writes is read. And often it is more engaging than what is posted by companies working in the Twittersphere.
Surely if science and facts are on the industry’s side, there is a convincing way to put across these points in 140 characters or less?
Not a link to a sustainability report or a PR line spewed out on a daily basis but a convincing argument stating the fact in an engaging way.
Twitter is all about learning how to engage people in what you share. It is about ensuring people get the best information, delivered with the sass and flare seen from the other side.
Without this engagement, companies are going to find they are falling further and further behind the mark.
This is an opportunity for PR companies and advertising specialists to jump in, if there ever was one.
That’s the challenge – should they choose to accept.