The UK Guardian has an article today about how the world’s largest public relations firm has lost four top executives and two clients because it deigned to do business with fossil fuel industry companies.
This is hardball, putting pressure to divest yourself from a profitable client and the rubber is meeting the road. After all, selling a stock will almost certainly make you money–firing a client loses you dough.
Edelmen, the PR firm in question, already turns away business from tobacco companies and gun manufacturers. So why not fossil fuels? Well, aside from the fact that fossil fuel companies have both more money and more customers…
Given that I’m a pretty constant critic of Konsensus Games, it may surprise some readers that I think this is a fair way of putting pressure on organizations on the other side of whatever debate you might be having. If I’m a big client of a PR agency, I would certainly feel free to look at their client list and think about taking my business elsewhere if I don’t see a good fit.
But although I think it’s a fair tactic to use, I doubt if it’s going to be effective. PR agencies are not famous for their sweet souls and gentle practices and should Edelman bid farewell to fossil fuel companies there will be no shortage of flacks lining up to take their place.
In the long run it makes climate change a game that can be measured. We can add up wins and losses, points scored, etc. It already is enough like fantasy football that this kind of change might be beneficial.
It’s better than the way the game is played now, with employers getting calls from Konsensus Kooks complaining that they’ve hired an evile denier (and I speak from personal experience about this). Looking at client wins/losses and monetary effects is far less personal. Maybe we can get Caesar Flickerman to announce the results.