By Belinda Petty, Enerdynamics Instructor
In my last blog I discussed the need for the evolving natural gas industry to educate the public and key stakeholders. In this article, I’ll discuss more in depth on how this might occur.
First, we need to clearly and proactively communicate to our various audiences the benefits that natural gas brings to the world of energy. In the past, our public relations groups have been called upon only in response to a problem. This needs to change. The market needs to be saturated with proactive, educational messages in all forms.
Second, we as industry insiders need to communicate with and educate each other. I know it’s a competitive marketplace, but sharing best practices helps us all. Each company will have its own way of implementing ideas. It’s important and profitable for everyone in a company, from mailroom to boardroom, to understand the basics of the industry along with its benefits. Associations can help in this process by bringing groups together.
Third, we need to communicate with and educate regulators and stakeholders – local, state, and federal. Why wait until a lawsuit “issue” is raised to tell the public the composition of fracking fluid? Hiding behind the statement “it’s a proprietary trade secret” gets us all behind the public opinion curve. Where is the risk analysis? Is it more costly to announce the reasoning for various fluid components before the drill bit touches soil or to hide behind the trade-secret excuse until someone files a lawsuit and poisons the press? To the public “hiding” is translated as wrong-doing – and that’s not the image our industry needs as an energy frontrunner.
It’s certainly a new world for natural gas. Our industry is not accustomed to being in front of the camera. We will make some mistakes in learning this new role of leader, but we can’t wait any longer to start taking steps. The time has come to embrace our true role as swan and lead the world to a warmer and cleaner reality.