Public Confidence - External Mobilization - Comments from CAPP

CAPP Speaker Series featuring Deryck Spooner - April 1, 2015 

Below is an opening speech from CAPP's VP of Communications, Jeff Gaulin. The entire speaker series featuring Deryck Spooner, can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GuIxc0aVLE 

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 emphasize - I feel that almost all of these strategies and tactics that he describes are universal in their application, they 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 inherit power of mobilizing people at a grassroots level can be applied effectively here in Canada 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 very 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, grassroots, on the ground outreach and communications approach, a campaign approach to influence the public opinion, 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 behold in that, we get about 42% of Canadians that are generally in favor 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 verses our supporters, it’s almost a three to one margin. Three opponents are prepared every day when they get out of bed to talk against our industry without any prompting, for every single one Canadian who stands up for our industry.  So we are in a struggle where our supporters feel alone often, they feel isolated, they can feel ostracized, and some of them may even beginning 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 that are aware of you, the more they all understand you. The more they understand you, the more they tend like you, the more they tend 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 just 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 free 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 use those people that are predisposed and already identified as supporters and using them, trusted friends, neighbours and colleagues to be voices and advocates in the hallways, in the homes, in the workplace to be able to pull people into the conversation for our industry.  So we are evolving away from public awareness per say, into more 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 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 to advance our industry causes. In Northern British Columbia or on the south coast along the greater Vancouver Regional District or Northern Alberta where our base of operations and support is; in Ontario, in the great areas around Toronto that helps supply the oil sands and the natural gas industry, as well as the corridor around Ottawa and ultimately at the end through the St. Lawrence seaway. 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 say, 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 to know that in 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 fracturing. Why? Because at that very local level, few people can be very effective. So with 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.

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