After the Supreme Court of Canada granted declaration of aboriginal title of more than 1,700 square kilometres of land in British Columbia to the Tsilhqot’in First Nation in June of 2014 the power of the Aboriginal rights movement has continued to strengthen. As I write this article Clyde River, Nunavut is in the Federal Court of Appeals over seismic testing in Baffin Bay and Davis Strait. In the last year many ENGO`s have rallied behind the challenge. Stopping development through Aboriginal movements is becoming more and more effective in Canada.
At a recent CAPP Speaker`s Series, Jeff Gaulin gave a very interesting introduction for the speaker Deryck Spooner, dealing with external mobilization for the Petroleum Industry. As usual, we seem to be two steps behind the ENGO`s and need to consider different methodologies of dealing with all our stakeholders.
Transcribed from CAPP Speaker Series featuring Deryck Spooner – April 1, 2015
My name is Jeff Gaulin. I am the Vice President of Communications at CAPP, and it is my pleasure to welcome you today to our first speakers’ series of 2015.
Today CAPP is pleased to invite Deryck Spooner as our first speaker of the year. Deryck is the senior director for external mobilization for the American Petroleum Institute in Washington, D.C.
Deryck will be sharing some of the examples in his case studies from his experiences in the United States, but, as he will also emphasise – I feel that almost all of these strategies and tactics he describes are universal in their application and are equally applicable here in Canada. Now, while some of the details on the political systems and the regulatory processes certainly differ between Canada and the United States, some might argue that there are cultural differences as well. The fundamental idea and the inherent power of mobilizing people at a grass roots level can be applied effectively here in Canada or wherever you are as long as you have an understanding of the political, demographic, and cultural landscape. That goes for both sides of the border. Being local matters and understanding your audience is critical. I see that some of these kinds of strategies and tactics are used around the world, used quite effectively by anti-fossil fuel opponents. Indeed, Deryck’s presence here comes at a very extremely timely moment as it coincides with our strategic shift at CAPP towards more targeted grass roots on the ground outreach and communications approach, a campaign approach to influence the public opinion and mobilizing support and influencing at the end of the day the public policy that supports the growth and continue development of our industry.
In Canada the oil and gas industry gets broad support nationally, but let’s not be lulled that we get about 42% of Canadians that are generally in favorable of oil and gas development relative to about 25% opposition; that’s what this pie chart shows. So why does it feel some days that it feels opposite from that? Why does it feel like we are losing? Well despite this advantage nationally, it is what matters locally and it’s how people speak up that is really critical. That is because of a different statistic – one that is when we look at what the percentage of opponents who are prepared to speak up versus our supporters – it’s almost a 3 to 1 margin. 3 opponents are prepared every day when they get out of bed to talk against our industry without any prompting, for every single Canadian who stands up for our industry. So we are in a struggle where our supporters feel alone; often they feel isolated, they are ostracized, and some of them may even come to have their doubts. When we look at building a traditional reputation the traditional method is to use communications to increase awareness. It is what I’d call it a PUSH strategy; push your way up the pyramid here. Build your level of awareness – the more people are aware of you the more they all understand you. The more they understand you the more they like you, the more they like you the more they trust you. And if they trust you, they might speak up and be advocates for you.
Our industry is not alone in finding a bit of a dichotomy here. We get people who like us or dislike us, regardless what they know about us. Some days the facts don’t matter. While it is important that we increase the energy literacy and get the facts out there, that won’t necessarily set us at this time. So one of the things we are shifting towards is what I call a PULL strategy, starting at the top of the pyramid and trying to use those people that are predisposed and already identified as supporters and using them – trusted friends, neighbours and colleges – to be voices and advocates in the hallways, in the homes, in the work place, to be able to pull people into the conversations for our industry. So we are evolving away from public awareness per se into public advocacy so that at the end of the day Canadian’s know that they are not alone and they are not wrong when they stand up and support Canada’s oil and gas industry. So we intend to change that dynamic using many of the strategies and tactics that you will hear from Deryck today and we hope that many of you in this room will join us on that journey. So you can see on the next slide one of the things that we are doing is moving away from what I would call a national campaign, because when you look at national numbers of support, we have it; if you move to a national campaign that’s not really where the pain is. We are taking a micro targeted multiple regional approach to put our efforts in areas that will help advance our industry causes.
In Northern British Columbia or on the south coast along Greater Vancouver Regional District or Northern Alberta where our base of operations and support is; or Ontario, in the great lakes areas around Toronto that help supply the oil sands and the natural gas industry, as well as the corridors around Ottawa and ultimately at the end through the St. Lawrence sea way. We are taking a LOCAL approach in getting our industry message out and building our support because the way we see it all politics, just as all communications should be is LOCAL. We are going to grab because the public dialog around oil and gas in Canada is no longer national per se; it is at that very LOCAL level. And our opponents are very, very good at being LOCAL and using that LOCAL opposition as a pinch point in opposition. One of the things that Deryck will talk about is, you might be surprised that Texas (what would be considered a bastion of support for oil and gas in the States) has seen some counties and some jurisdictions ban hydraulic fracking, why because at that very LOCAL level a few people can be very effective. So at that I would like to welcome Deryck to the stage and hand things over to him about how he has built the mobilization program in the States and what we can learn from it in Canada.
From Brainy Quotes on the Internet:
Time and tide wait for no man.
– GEOFFREY CHAUCER