Frac sand activists will be holding an action late in the afternoon Tuesday at the Radisson Plaza Hotel Minneapolis to protest the inaugural frac sand conference hosted by British trade publication Industrial Minerals, “the only magazine focused purely on covering the global non-metallic industry.“
The protest invite focuses on corporate interests like George Soros’ beloved Halliburton and other such entities in the post “gold rush” frac sand era. But Bluestem was much more interested in the flacks leading two presentations Wednesday in Session VI: Regulation and reputation:
Hydraulic fracturing: Adjusting to regulatory demands and public pressure
• How is the regulatory and political environment influencing the industry and public opinion?
• Even if regulations are met, how can the public be brought onside?
• How to communicate and right message and generate grassroots support
John Davies, CEO, Davies Public Affairs
Reputation transformation: How to manage a misunderstood industry
• How can the industry reputation be better communicated?
• What to do about misinformation already in the public eye?
• How to ensure that regulators and the public have the correct information
Amy Malerba Hemingway, SVP and Group Head, Energy Sector, Edelman
Because of course the citizens of Southeast Minnesota are so dumb that they’ve got to be simply misinformed about what the impact of wrecking their landscape, endangering restored trout streams, storm spills, blasting bluffs, heavy traffic, particulates, and all the rest.
Who are John Davies and Amy Malerba Hemingway?
John Davies: astroturf aristocracy with a believer’s edge
A Source Watch entry on Davies’ firm, last updated on March 25, 2010, includes the following information:
“Davies Communications is another specialist in astroturf support. Mailing lists and computer databases put the firm in touch with receptive citizens, who are asked to write letters to their representatives. And if they don’t have the time, Davies Communications offers to write the letter for them, adding their signature under their consent. “We hand write it out on ‘little kitty cat stationery’ if it’s a little old lady,” says John Davies. “If it’s a business we take it over to be photocopied on someone’s letterhead. [We] use different stamps, different envelopes… Getting a pile of personalized letters that have a different look to them is what you want to strive for.”
In 2006, CoastSider reported “A couple of participants in the Pacifica-L Internet mailing list claiming to be Pacifica residents who support the Pacifica Quarry development appear to be employees of the developer’s public relations firm [Davies Communications] in Santa Barbara.”
Profile from World of Coal Ash 2009
“DAVIES Public Affairs assists firms in the coal ash industry prepare for and respond to a crisis with: crisis planning, media and spokesperson training, situational first response, crisis and issues management, media relations, grassroots supporter activation, and regulatory response. DAVIES was named Public Affairs Agency of the Year by The Holmes Report. The firm has served clients in 46 states.” 
Sharon Beder, author of Global Spin: The Corporate Assault on Environmentalism, included Davies among Examples of Manufacturing Grassroots Support in a “Front Group” section:
Another expert in creating grassroots support for corporations is John Davies who features a picture of an old lady carrying a sign “Not in my backyard” in his advertisements. The picture is captioned Don’t leave your future in her hands.
Traditional lobbying is no longer enough. Today numbers count. To win in the hearing room, you must reach out to create grassroots support. To outnumber your opponents, call the leading grassroots public affairs communications specialists.(Stauber and Rampton 199, p. 18)
In his promotion, Davies explains that he will use mailing lists and computer databases to identify potential supporters and telemarketers to persuade them to agree to have letters written on their behalf. In this way he is able to create the impression of a “spontaneous explosion of community support for needy corporations.” (Stauber and Rampton 199, pp. 23-4)
The practical objective of letter-writing campaigns is not actually to get a majority of the people behind a position and to express themselves on it—for it would be virtually impossible to whip up that much enthusiasm—but to get such a heavy, sudden outpouring of sentiment that lawmakers feel they are being besieged by a majority. The true situation may be quite the contrary.(Sherrill 1990, p. 376)
Since 2010, Davies has stood up not only for the coal ash industry, but for the entire coal industry. In a 2011 article in American Coal magazine, Davies wrote in American Coal is Under Attack:
. . .Over the last 40 years new technology and innovation has led to substantial reductions in emissions. Likewise, recent stringent new environmental regulations are being met and surpassed by power generators across the country. Yet opponents of coal are more aggressive then ever and are increasing their attacks on coal. Clearly, opponents are not concerned with improving coal – they want it gone.
In 2009, a Sierra Club lawyer announced the environmental community would eventually shut down all of the existing fleet of coal-fueled plants, replacing them with energy efficiency measures or renewable power. His plan was of course to fight every new plant, but also according to this lawyer, the plan by which they will achieve their goal is an indirect attack, an attack on the cost of energy from coal-fueled plants.
The total effect has been plans for dozens of new coal-fueled plants have been scrapped in the last two years; probably a mercy killing because chances of getting them successfully through the regulatory approval process were slim to none.
None of this should be a surprise as there has been an all out assault on coal for decades. Now that the anti-coal activists are entrenched in a number of federal agencies, they are acting quickly. The Sierra Club’s anti-coal campaign is really a political campaign and has effectively portrayed coal as the environmental public enemy number one.
Ok that was the bad news. Here’s the good news.
Our research and experience shows there is an approach that the public understands and will move them to assist us.
Lining up coal miners and employees at public hearings, is helpful, and can show the real face of the industry.
But much more powerful is activating people with absolutely no vested interest in coal. Individuals, who were moved by a compelling message to take action, can help us better tell the story with passion and credibility. . . .
Davies said much the same things in Oilsands industry Urged to Win People’s Hearts in Public Relations ‘War’, Enviroline reported:
Oilsands companies are “at war” with militant environmental groups and need to appeal to emotion as much as fact to win the public’s hearts and minds, says the head of an influential public affairs company in the United States.
“Reason without emotion is impotent,” John Davies, CEO of Davies Public Affairs based in Santa Barbara, California, told the Oil Sands Heavy Oil Conference & Exhibition in Calgary, July 19-21, 2011. “Thing is, we’re at war and we’ve been at war for a couple of decades, and the war is being fought at various fronts,” including legislative, regulatory and in the courts, Davies said. The other side is tapping emotion to muster strength for its cause, and using fear to change regulations and the economics of natural resources extraction, he told conference delegates. “What would you do if someone attacked your family the way they’re doing this industry? You would defend them. So why aren’t you defending your industry in the same way?”
. . . Davies told the oilsands and heavy oil conference about a Sierra Club lawyer’s comments about coal, which he said were made to an American Bar Association meeting about two years ago. The lawyer said that the Sierra Club’s opposition to coal-fired power was “going to change the regulations so that we increase the cost to a level that is unfeasible,” said Davies, who maintained that environmental groups are using the same tactic to undermine oilsands production.
The game is being played in both the U.S. and Canada, although from the American perspective, the game is all about pipelines, Davies said. “So all of a sudden, your pipelines become the worst thing for the environment.”
Both the proposed Keystone XL pipeline (a TransCanada Corp. project to carry crude from Hardisty, Alberta to Cushing, Oklahoma, and eventually to Texas), and the Gateway Pipeline (an Enbridge Inc. venture involving a twinned pipeline system running from near Edmonton, Alberta, to a new marine terminal in Kitimat), have faced opposition from environmental groups and First Nations.
Davies said that with any resource-based project, companies face opposition from three groups of individuals: those who are 1) responsible; 2) persuadable; and 3) irrational. Companies need to understand what motivates each group, he said. The attitude of the “responsibles” represents a good thing, such as Neighbourhood Watch, gone bad and turned into NIBMY, he said. “It’s stepping up and doing something in your neighborhood and your community . . . Who doesn’t want to move into a neighborhood that has pride of ownership . . . NIMBY’s pretty good on that side.”
Bluestem suspects that Davies will say very much the same thing–right down to the Sierra Club anecdote–on Wednesday.
In 2012, the San Diego Reader reported in The Astroturfing of Carmel Valley:
What better way to defeat a grassroots movement than to create an astroturf campaign? That’s what residents of Carmel Valley believe Kilroy Realty is doing to gain approval for its massive mixed-use project, One Paseo.
Residents say that in order to pass what will be the largest development project ever in Carmel Valley the developer has hired a Santa Barbara–based public relations firm that specializes in creating fake grassroots campaigns to make “NIMBYs and naysayers irrelevant.” . . .
Those residents believe that executives at Kilroy Realty have taken steps to quell the opposition by hiring a former director of development services for the City of San Diego, Marcela Escobar-Eck, to serve as a project consultant. Kilroy has also hired Davies, a public relations firm in Santa Barbara. O’Dwyer’s public-relations news organization ranks Davies as the third top PR firm in the country dealing with environmental projects.
. . . Last summer, Carmel Valley residents believe they saw Davies’s strategy unfold.
“We got this elaborate brochure in the mail, and we wondered why they were sending it to us. Something just felt weird about it,” says Carmel Valley resident Carolyn Keen.
“And then we started seeing these letters printed in the Carmel Valley News in support of the project. I knew this wasn’t grassroots, it just pretended to be.”
Davies’ firm described itself in the advertising section listings of O’Dwyer’s February edition:
Those who need to win the highest stakes matters, the toughest crises, and the most difficult regulatory problems increasingly turn to Davies Public Affairs.
Since 1983, Davies has grown to become the nation’s third largest dedicated public affairs firm. This success is based on results across multiple industries,for clients includin Fortune 100 companies and top names in 47 states.
From traditional outreach to highly structured online cam campaigns, Davies builds and implements integrated grassroots programs to shape public opinion and build genuine support.
For Davies, nothing is too complicated, too political, too controversial, or too tough. Starting with a research-based approach, Davies crafts strategies designed not just to move the public opinion needle, but to win. This drive to win is what many clients say sets Davies apart.
Impeccable tactical execution is the starting point, but is not sufficient. Success requires the ability to articulate why. That is, from the standpoint of the public, why should a client succeed? Most public affairs fights are lost because that question is never answered.
Davies not only knows how to answer the all-important why, the firm knows how to use that message to motivate individuals to stand up, speak out, and take action.
What’s more, Davies has God on his side, or so the members of the Believers Edge, a “Kingdom Calling” men’s business group would have us believe. You can watch his spiel in Overcoming Fear, Facing our Giants with John Davies.
According to the Believers Edge “About” page, every man has a calling, and in the group:
“You will discover practical teaching for men in the ‘Market Place’, helping them to influence the culture of Government, Business, Arts, Media, and Education within our communities.”
That’s remarkably close to first five items in the New Apostolic Reformation’s “Seven Mountain” punch list: Government, Business, Arts & Entertainment, Media, and Education (the last two are Family and Religion).
Remembering the Ladies: Edelman’s energy lead, Amy Malerba Hemingway
But feminists and other dirty hippies needn’t fear the new energy revolution as a mere Trojan horse for Dominionist worldly conquest.
There’s Amy Malerba Hemingway. The July 21-23, 2013 Uptech New Orleans Upstream Oil and Gas Summit shared this biographical sketch of the Washington based flack:
Amy joined Edelman’s Washington office in April 2006. She currently serves as strategic counselor to the world’s largest independent E&P company, and advises a variety of energy clients on corporate positioning/reputation, message and content development, stakeholder engagement, crisis and issues management, research, executive engagement, media partnerships, and event strategy. For six years Amy managed multiple aspects of a national public affairs campaign for the American Petroleum Institute (API), which focused on educating and engaging important audiences on key energy and policy issues including hydraulic fracturing, oil sands/Keystone XL pipeline, access and taxes. Her work included support for the Deepwater Horizon incident in 2010. [emphasis added]
Jeepers. At Uptech, Hemingway gave the following presentation:
Keynote Day 1: Keynote Day 1: “From License to Operate to License to Lead: Building Trust Around Hydraulic Fracturing”ABSTRACT:
- The state of play on hydraulic fracturing
- The current state of trust in the oil and natural gas industry
- The changing landscape and the implications for the industry
- The path forward for industry action on hydraulic fracturingAmy Malerba Hemingway, SVP and Group Head, Energy Sector, EdelmanEdelman is the world’s largest public relations firm, with 66 offices and more than 4,500 employees worldwide, as well as affiliates in more than 30 cities.
Across the vast Edelman network, she works to globalize, dimensionalize and operationalize Edelman’s energy experience to intensify the company’s position as a leader in the fast-growing energy sector. She serves diverse energy client interests including natural resources, power and clean tech. She works across various disciplines including corporate positioning and reputation, public affairs, message and content development, research, stakeholder engagement, digital integration, crisis and issues management, executive engagement, media partnerships and event strategy.
Prior to Edelman, Amy served as the government relations director for U.S. participation in the 2005 World Exposition in Aichi, Japan. She is an active member of the Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment and Washington Women in Public Relations.
Amy has a bachelor’s degree in urban studies and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Well then. The Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment’s mission is “to provide nonpartisan, policy neutral forums on energy and environmental issues and to foster the professional development of our members.” It does this with the help of “Angel Sponsors” like Exelon, while BP and other firms settle for being Sustaining Sponsors.
As for Edelman, energy clients include API, GE, Shell, Chevron, MASDAR, Solar Frontier, Pacific Gas and Electric Company.
PR Industry as Targets
The work of public relations and public affairs firms hasn’t escaped scrutiny by activists elsewhere. Another Edelman executive writes in PR Firms as Targets:
I was in London this week when news spread around our office about a protest at a competitor’s premises. Six anti-fracking (that is high pressure hydraulic fracturing to liberate shale gas) protestors [link added] literally glued themselves to the doors of Bell Pottinger before work on Monday. They were objecting to the firm’s representation of Cuadrilla, the energy company headed by former BP CEO Lord Browne.
The NGO, Reclaim the Power, [link added] put a sign over the entrance describing Bell Pottinger as “Fracking Liars.” They also released an undercover recording of an employee of the firm speaking at a public meeting near a proposed drilling site, with excerpting comments to maximum negative effect. The NGO contended further that the Bell Pottinger employee also said that the net effect of “fracking” would amount to an insignificant reduction of bills to consumers, though there was no recording of that claim.
. . .Edelman was in this exact situation when we began our work with Walmart seven years ago. We work around the world with real estate developers seeking to build new properties, biotechnology companies wanting to introduce new forms of genetically modified seeds and technology companies challenged on privacy standards. We encourage our clients to practice radical transparency on production methods and sustainability practices. We engage critics, from community activists to NGOs, in constructive discussions and consultations. We offer the opportunity for a public debate where the facts are aired and challenged. We make sure that our communications are factually sound, checked by client experts. We are aggressive in telling our story, quick to correct inaccuracies, relying on third-party commentary from academic experts.
Fact checks by “client experts.” Lovely. Why would anyone ever target public relations firms, for cat’s sakes?
Images: The banner for Industrial Minerals’ Frac Sand Conference, beginning today in Minneapolis (top); there’s nothing to fear but giant sand mining with John Davies, a Goliath of the PR industry (second); Amy Malerba Hemingway (third); Fractivists targeting a British firm, via the Guardian (bottom).