Alberta Oil Magazine’s National Survey of Energy Literacy, Public Trust and Confidence highlights that the vast majority of Canadians do not trust the companies in this industry, the government or the journalists reporting on fossil fuels. The only group that’s trusted are academics.
It’s not surprising that Canadians lack confidence in the business of oil and gas. The sector has struggled to credibly highlight the better aspects of its work and has failed to downplay what’s bad about fracking, dirty oil, etc. Additionally, the federal government has politicized oil and gas, making it easy for anyone who disagrees with Stephen Harper to be suspicious of initiatives such as the Keystone Pipeline.
During an interview on CBC Radio’s The 180, Max Fawcett, editor of Alberta Oil, said that the industry needs to do a better job telling its story. I’d add that they also need to do a better, more environmentally-friendly job of managing and producing their product. As it stands, there’s arguably a lot of truth to the criticisms about the negative impact of extracting, processing and shipping hydrocarbons.
So until the industry’s leaders determine how best to honestly reconcile the challenges inherent to the sector, their feel-good ads will seem hollow. Until they find a way to balance the good with the bad and allow their actions to speak more loudly than their words, the energy sector will continue to be seen as a necessary evil with a bad rep.
Relying on credible actions instead of hard-to-believe words is easier said than done for some. But if the sector is in fact getting better at what it does, and given its many economic benefits, it should have a compelling story to share that over time might increase public trust and confidence.
Some companies struggle to define themselves and what they do. I see it often when I go to the “about” page of a brand’s site and can’t immediately understand what they offer. More often than not I’ll need to Google the company to find news coverage describing them.
So why is it that some companies fail to clearly get to the point about what they sell and why it matters? Because they don’t understand the basics of storytelling.
News stories answer the following questions: what, why, who, how, when, where. For instance, knowing how a product will make it easy to quickly secure my data will help me appreciate why I might want to buy it.
All businesses need to know the answers to these questions. Whether it’s at the brand level or at the product level, if your team doesn’t know why your product matters and if your site doesn’t clearly state the customer benefits, for instance, then whatever is unique and wonderful about what you’re selling won’t resonate as much as it should.
So as you’re conceiving your startup or launching a new product or repositioning your business, make sure you and your teams are absolutely clear about the answers to these questions:
- What is your product or service?
- Why does it matter?
- Who is it for?
- How does it work?
- Where and when is it available?
Once you can clearly and succinctly address these questions, you’ll be able to tell a compelling customer benefit story that will help you, and your, team connect.
As we jump into the first month of the new year it’s a good time to look ahead at the communications work that will be a priority for the industry. It’s no surprise digital will continue to grow in importance as more marketers become comfortable with content marketing and social media and the results these channels can deliver.
Here’s a list of the communications trends I posted on the PUNCH blog.