For controversial companies, the tactic of the moment is clear: attack! Attack! Attack your opponents, and smear them! The latest PR firm to offer this advice is Edelman, which advised an oil company client to attack the vicious, uh... community groups that oppose their plans.
Edelman is one of the world's biggest and most powerful PR firms. You may remember it for its work shilling on behalf of Walmart, or advising clients how to capitalize on Robin Williams' death. But those transgressions only scratch the surface of Edelman's soullessness. Today, the New York Times reports on documents made public by Greenpeace, in which Edelman advises its client TransCanada, a Canadian energy company, to go on the attack against people and groups that opposed TransCanada's plans to build an oil pipeline called Energy East. (TransCanada is the same company that seeks to build the Keystone XL pipeline as well.)
"We cannot allow opponents to have a free pass," Edelman, which touts "integrity," "respect," and "citizenship" as its core values, told its oil company client, in reference to people who sincerely believe that building new oil pipelines may be detrimental to life on earth as we know it. (Edelman also frequently touts its own commitment to stopping climate change!) From the NYT, a bit of Edelman's citizenship in action:
Edelman, in its documents, proposes a campaign directed at opposition groups like the Council of Canadians and the David Suzuki Foundation, as well as a small community group in Ottawa that usually fights for more bike lanes and park enhancements.
In its proposal, Edelman proposed "a perpetual campaign to protect and enhance the value of the Energy East Pipeline and to help inoculate TransCanada from potential attacks in any arena," according to the documents. The language, at times, invoked a military battle, one that would "add layers of difficulty for our opponents, distracting them from their mission and causing them to redirect their resources."
At least an oil company is proud of being in a dirty business.