Shell Drills for Support in Virginia

As part of its crisis management strategy, in response to public anger over high gas prices and record-breaking profits for the oil industry, Shell Oil president John Hofmeister recently spoke to a small invite-only group in Richmond, Virginia. The audience, ranging "from supportive state politicians to deeply skeptical environmentalists," was "selected by Shell's public relations agency, Burson-Marsteller," reports USA Today. After debating "spending millions on a new ad campaign or offering consumers special discounts," Shell opted for a more targeted and personal PR approach, "a strategy that the United Kingdom unit of multinational Royal Dutch Shell had used with some success." During the Virginia event, Hofmeister "deftly field[ed] even the most pointed questions," commending but then passing on one environmentalist's challenge to support higher automobile fuel economy standards. Hofmeister frequently alluded to "the need to tap into offshore oil reservoirs." Shell wants to drill off Virginia's southern coast, but the idea "remains controversial and requires congressional approval."


[ O'Dwyer's PR Daily] (sub req'd) reports that Hofmeister has also given presentations in "Oklahoma City, Milwaukee, Montgomery, Denver, Charlotte, Louisville, Nashville, and Indianapolis so far this year."

Shell's website features [ a map] of its ongoing "dialogue with America," and also lists "some of the most [ frequently asked questions]" during Hofmeister's talks. One noteworthy question listed in the FAQ is: "Is there an argument you could make to persuade people to allow more offshore drilling?"