Canadians Don’t Trust the Oil and Gas Industry

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.

Wind Chill! What is it?

It’s the first week of 2015 which means it’s cold in Toronto. Watching the news I hear that the temperature is minus 9 degrees Celsius; minus 18 with the wind chill.

So what the hell is the wind chill and why don’t meteorologists and weather folks just give us one number that most accurately reflects what we feel outside?

Here’s what Environment Canada says about wind chill (note that it doesn’t seem to be written by a comms pro):

Canada’s wind chill index is accurate, easy to understand and reflects the needs of Canadians. It is based on research using human volunteers and advanced computer technology, combined with recent medical advances in the understanding of how the body loses heat when exposed to cold. As a result, the wind chill observations and forecasts that you hear are now much more representative of what you actually feel.

The index is expressed in temperature-like units, the format preferred by most Canadians. By equating the outdoor conditions to an equivalent temperature with no wind, the index represents the degree of “chill” that your skin senses. For example, if the wind chill is -20 while the outside temperature is only -10ºC, it means that your face will feel as cold as if it was a calm day (no wind) with a temperature of -20ºC.

I think the above EC information highlights why we’re confused by the wind chill. If it feels like minus 20, why not just say “it’s minus 20, stay warm”? Perhaps because the colder the better, in terms of more of us checking to see how bad it is, and, you know, the increased ad revenue that comes from more viewers.

That said, I used to work at The Weather Network and I know that the meteorologists there were serious about the science of weather and giving Canadians accurate forecasts. I also remember a friend at the time questioning the wind chill factor.  I defended it then, but now I’m not so sure.

Retargeted Ads

I see why online advertisers are interested in native ads, sponsored content and other ways to get consumers to notice brands: retargeted ads are irritating. You click on an ad for whatever reason or visit a site and then that ad follows you around screaming “look at me.” The idea being that since you were interested enough to visit the web page, you will eventually convert to a sale if you’re constantly reminded about your interest in that brand.

Make sense, I guess, but the downside is a negative brand experience due to the perception that the retargeted ad won’t leave you alone.

No matter how wonderful the creative is, how compelling the copy, or how relevant the offer, seeing the ad everywhere I click for longer than say, a day, isn’t effective. If I’m interested in the brand, I’ll come back when I’m ready. Likely after I read a review and see people I trust write positively about the product.

In other words, tone down the retargeting and rely more on the other marketing communications tools.