News & Resources

PR Firms Are Being Shamed For Helping Fossil Fuel Companies ‘Green’ Their Image

December 11, 2020

CSSN Director of Research Robert Brulle and CSSN Scholar Melissa Aronczyk quoted on their research into PR firms’ facilitation of climate denial campaigns by Amy Westervelt. 

“Environmental sociologist Robert Brulle has been studying these campaigns for years and says whether it’s a Super Bowl ad or a speech to Congress, the message generally touches on the same key points: “The idea that [oil and gas companies are] responsible actors addressing this issue. And that there’s no need for any kind of government regulation or intervention. And that if we did have intervention, it could upset our economy and lead to the loss of our wonderful way of life. And, oh, by the way, we’re really not all that sure about the science anyway. And we’ve got time to study this more… And here we are 31 years later and we still haven’t taken action that addresses the scale of climate change.””

“I don’t think most people realize how close the media is to strategic communications firms,” Aronczyk said. She noted how often stories we see in the media come from reporters being pitched by companies or nonprofit organizations on different sides of the climate issue. “Much more than any particular ad or firm or message, it’s the whole climate of publicity that’s the problem, where we think it’s normal to get information this way,” she said.