Firms among the top 25 PR companies say they won’t work with climate change deniers

Source: By Goldenberg/Karim, London Guardian • Posted: Wednesday, August 6, 2014

For the first time, some of the top 25 public relations companies in the world are saying publicly that they will not work with clients that deny climate change or that are trying to block regulations limiting carbon emissions.

The statement came from companies including WPP, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, Weber Shandwick, Text100 and Finn Partners, representing a major change within the multibillion-dollar industry.

“We would not support a campaign that denies the existence and the threat posed by climate change, or efforts to obstruct regulations cutting greenhouse gas emissions and/or renewable energy standards,” said Weber Shandwick spokeswoman Michelle Selesky.

WPP, the world’s largest advertising firm based on its revenue, said supporting climate change deniers went against company guidelines.

“We ensure that our own work complies with local laws, marketing codes and our own code of business conduct. These prevent advertising that is intended to mislead, and the denial of climate change would fall into this category,” the company said.

However, Fiona McEwan, a spokeswoman for the company, also said that the 150 companies within WPP were free to pick their own clients. The company also would still consider working with clients opposed to greenhouse gas regulations, she said.

The companies were responding to independent surveys by the London Guardian and the Washington-based group Climate Investigations Center, which researches disinformation campaigns about climate change.

“The PR industry is a major component of the influence-peddling industry that stretches across Washington and the world, and they are making large sums of money from energy companies and other important players that have businesses connected to fossil fuels and energy policy,” said Kert Davies, the founder of Climate Investigations.

Davies said the PR firms tended to give the appearance of neutrality to keep their client options open. Yet they are responsible for designing the campaigns that disseminate information about climate change, making them important players in the issue.

Not all top 25 PR companies responded to the surveys.

The U.S.-based company Edelman did not say specifically whether it would work with clients that denied climate change.

“Expanding the dialogue in a constructive manner and driving productive outcomes to solve energy challenges are the key criteria for evaluating client engagements,” said spokesman Michael Bush (Goldenberg/Karim,London Guardian, Aug. 4)