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CEO DATELINE – Report: Energy associations spent $1.4B on PR over nine years

March 19, 2019
By Walt Williams

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A new report by a climate change activist group alleges energy associations and energy-friendly business groups spent $1.4 billion in public relations from 2008 to 2017, with the American Petroleum Institute alone accounting for half of that.

The report by the Climate Investigations Center analyzed the public relations spending of 18 associations using their federal Form 990 tax records. The researchers built on data first collected in 2015 by the investigative watchdog group the Center for Public Integrity, which found that API paid a single PR firm—Edelman—more than $327 million to influence public opinion and policy.

CIC found API spent $663 million in the time period examined, accounting for nearly half of all PR expenditures of the groups examined. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce came in a distant second, spending $244 million, or about 18 percent of expenditures.

Fossil fuel companies vastly outspent their renewable energy industry competitors. The American Wind Energy Association, Growth Energy (representing biodiesel), National Biodiesel Board and Solar Energy Industry Association spent a combined $98.4 million on PR and advertising during the period examined.

“We found that the public relations firms with the most lucrative contracts over the time period of our dataset were Edelman, DDC Advocacy, FleishmanHillard and Blue Advertising (once part of Edelman),” the authors wrote.

Other associations examined included the Nuclear Energy Institute ($54.9 million), National Mining Association ($20.3 million), American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity ($76.1 million) and Edison Electric Institute ($3.9 million).