This is the next entry in our “Best of” series, in which we venture deep into the vault to replay blog opinion and insight that has withstood the test of time. Today’s post hails from December 2011. We welcome your feedback.
More than two decades ago, I was working with a public relations agency in Halifax, Nova Scotia, that was helping a resource development company counter considerable opposition within fishing communities to its proposal to drill exploratory natural gas wells on Georges Bank. It was a classic case of a clash between a critically important but fading industry — the fishery — and a new and incredibly promising industry — offshore hydrocarbon extraction. We mounted an open and consultative information campaign in the fishing communities most dependent on Georges Bank. We held countless meetings in and around those communities. We hired a local lad, the son of a fishing family, who had become a geologist and had worked in oil and gas exploration to head up our community efforts. And we organised a critical political gathering — a dinner in Halifax to which we invited scores of influential business, political and community leaders to hear directly from the company CEO.
I wasn’t at the dinner but my colleagues told me what happened and I am paraphrasing in the quotes below.
The CEO, almost a caricature of the good old boy cigar-chomping American oilman, got to his feet after desert and, as part of his prepared comments, told the assembled dignitaries, “The problem with you’all is you don’t know how to take risk.”