Tips for Energy and Utility PR: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

By Andrew Blum*

When the price of oil took a hit and slumped under $40 a barrel for months, it meant a long period of pain and uncertainty for the oil patch and a whole lot of crisis PR for communications professionals in the energy industry.

Just about every news story about oil for months at a time focused on the price per barrel, how much it was up or down, how high or low it would go and how long it would stay in its current slump. Along with that were bad industry financial announcements, bankruptcies and the economic impact on states in the oil patch.

Such are the ups and downs of doing PR in the energy business – it’s full of swings and politics.

Not only has energy policy been thrown into the 2016 presidential elections, but it’s become part of an ongoing international debate as climate change and renewable energy challenge the long run of fossil fuels.

Whether it be oil, shale/fracking, coal (and “the war on coal”), solar, wind, ethanol, climate change/sustainability, the Obama administration EPA rules, Department of Energy grants or the Keystone Pipeline, energy and its PR element have been front and center over the past several years.

To communicate with the press on such issues requires experienced PR people with an understanding of and experience in the energy industry.

So to keep up with all the goings-on in the industry, such as oil price fluctuations, use a clipping service like Critical Mention.

You’ll need it in 2016 and 2017, when the next president and/or Congress are likely to take action on energy different from President Obama’s policies.

*Andrew Blum is a PR consultant and media trainer and principal of AJB Communications. He has directed PR for professional services and financial services firms, NGOs, agencies and other clients. As a PR executive, and formerly as a journalist, he has been involved on both sides of the media aisle in some of the most media intensive crises of the past 25 years. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter: @ajbcomms.