Kick Starting Communications For A Peak Oil World
As a consultant who’s present livelihood depends on a functional economy, I take great interest in the role of our collective consciousness to prepare for post-peak oil world. The complaint I run into again and again is that the “Mainstream Media” isn’t communicating the severity of the energy crisis. That’s why I’m offering a general marketing outline for local governments to take charge and kick off their peak oil communications plans.
It goes against the nature of capitalism to ask people to stop consuming – so I wouldn’t expect your local car dealer to advertise for people NOT buy their cars. Of course, the more profit margins shrink the more they will be willing to experiment with their marketing budgets to see what works, and there will be a period of “desperation marketing”. But that is a different article. This article is about helping cities take the lead to educate citizens and businesses.
Now, what I’m about to propose is a sneaky way for cities to “Educate” advertising agencies and wake them up. The hope is that once advertising folks get wind of the seriousness of peak oil, they will be able to communicate with their clients/customers and the information will trickle to executives controlling the money. Hopefully they will choose to reinvest that money right now into localizing their own economy, including producing goods and services from raw materials within a hundred mile radius.
Just how can we get from A to B? Take a gander at this, and feel free to pass it along to your local municipal planners with access to marketing dollars.
Suggested Approach For Peak Oil Communications Campaign
The process of creating behavior changes to prepare for the decline of fossil fuels will not be easy. Nearly every aspect of our modern lives are supported by access to affordable energy. Energy depletion will profoundly change the way live, and it will be challenging, but possible – to create a change of modern-living consciousness.
I believe this change begins with proper communications that reach certain audiences with messages created specific to their world view. In a generic sense, groups the city should consider messaging to are:
• Business Leaders
• Community Leaders
In order to effectively achieve the marketing objectives of any campaign, the city should identify what outcome is desired from each of these audiences. Some suggestions are:
• Preparing citizens for the realities of Peak Oil/Peak Natural Gas
• Get citizens to take action and prepare
• Foster community responses
• Establish your city as Peak Oil leaders
• Get businesses to make changes needed
• Simultaneously sustain and grow our local economy
This is no ordinary marketing effort. This campaign could serve as an example of communications for other cities across America and the world. Funding and executing the right communications program is crucial. The following are suggestions for succeeding in this endeavor:
Choosing the right messages
Peak Oil effects everyone. The solutions to implement in order to make preparations are vast. Questions to consider when creating messaging are:
• What is the budget for the project?
• Who are the audiences most likely to act on the messaging?
• What are the gender, age, and lifestyle of the people we are looking to communicate with?
• What exactly does the city wish to communicate?
• How will the city measure communications success?
In my opinion, this should be a well funded communications program with a budget between $250,000 – $350,000 for the first phase. These funds would be dispersed between multiple types of media during the campaign.
Since this is such a broad communications campaign, the city should consider placing advertising and communications across multiple media, reaching a broad audience with specific messaging. This means additional research and planning, however competent markets will be able to create targeted messages for each.
I would like to make a special note about the Internet. The media landscape is rapidly changing, and TV, Radio and Print are all morphing into Internet based content (information and entertainment). I highly recommend a strong Internet component with any peak oil campaign, including:
News Aggregators, Blogs, Viral Video, Social Networks, custom content and a dedicated municipal website created for your various campaigns.
Bidding for the city contract
In order to ensure success, your city should create a Request For Proposal for this campaign. Since the issue of Peak Oil is new to many advertising agencies and marketing consultants that will bid on the contract, it is suggested that the city require any bidders to attend two city-sponsored “Peak Oil” education meetings (presented by your most informed staffers / consultants).
This will ensure that the city is able to educate advertising agencies to communicate what is necessary, as well as create competition to think critically. After the educational sessions, bidders would have to submit sample campaigns to the city as part of the RFP.
The contract award could be based on the following criteria:
• Ability to fully grasp the implications of peak oil (if enough of their people freak out, they probably get it)
• Sample campaigns must be submitted (To win the contract, they must prove they can generate good ideas)
• Ability to create an integrated campaign across multiple media
• Added value
By no means is this a complete plan, rather an idea for getting started. It’s up to you to take something like this to your local officials and get things started. And while you’re at it, buy a compost bin while they are still cheap!