A friend of mine just sent me a link to a desmogblog.com post describing a proud friends and family newsletter from a Virginia based public relations firm called Hawthorn Group. The newsletter provided numerous details about how Hawthorn Group used a focused set of traditional public relations tactics to give the impression that there is a huge, grassroots level of support for coal.
The newsletter even provided the metric that the PR group used to measure the success of the campaign – they gave themselves credit for shifting the response to the following poll question:
“Do you support/oppose the use of coal to generate electricity?”
In September 2007, before the group put its plan into effect for the 2008 presidential campaign, the response was 46% supporting with 50% opposed. By the end of the 2008 presidential campaign, after most candidates had genuflected to King Coal – partially because they were surrounded by “Clean Coal” swag wearing supporters at campaign fundraising events – the poll numbers had shifted dramatically to 72% people supporting with just 22% opposed.
Here is a link to the Hawthorn Group newsletter detailing their “clean coal” branding efforts, just in case you need someone to run a campaign to convince people that the earth is flat, or that it is okay to drink water collected from shower drains.
(Note: the friend who sent the link suggested that I consider it to be a smoking gun, but unfortunately the group did not mention anything in their tactics letter about using their efforts to talk badly about nuclear power. I would not be surprised if they had but, so far, I cannot prove it.)