Chevron plans more videos to dispute Ecuador lawsuit

SAN RAMON, CA: Chevron plans to continue to make videos showcasing its side of a pending class action lawsuit with Ecuadorians who hold Texaco, which it bought in 2001, responsible for pollution to the Amazon rainforest.

SAN RAMON, CA: Chevron plans to continue to make videos showcasing its side of a pending class action lawsuit with Ecuadorians who hold Texaco, which it bought in 2001, responsible for pollution to the Amazon rainforest.

The New York Times published an article on May 11 about a video Chevron filmed in response to a May 3 60 Minutes segment about the case. Chevron made the video public on its sites, on YouTube, and sent it to its key stakeholders, including 60,000 employees prior to the 60 Minutes airing, according to Dave Samson, GM of public affairs at Chevron.

Although the video stems from Chevron's corporate site, the Times story noted that this video in particular does not explicitly state that it was produced by Chevron rather than a media organization. The company hired Gene Randall, a former CNN journalist, to narrate the video.

“The video that has gotten all the attention in the aftermath of [the] 60 Minutes [segment] is not the first we've produced with respect to the Ecuador situation,” Samson said. “We have nothing to hide. We're going to continue to produce video, continue to use a journalistic format, and continue to tell the story both through traditional means and online.”

Broadcast professional Kevin Foley, president of KEF Media, agreed that the source of the video is clear. (Foley is also the president of the National Association of Broadcast Communicators, but spoke with PRWeek for this story as president of KEF.)

"It might well be advisable to put out information about your side of the story so people can hear the whole thing," he said. "Viewers are pretty smart. I'm sure any viewer would look at this and know that Chevron is the source."

Yet, others suggested Chevron could have benefitted from additional transparency measures like adding a logo to the video, in order to curtail any argument from the opposition and protect its reputation.

"You know your opponents," said Joe Baerlein, president of Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications. "That's the first argument they're going to throw at you. [If this] goes viral, does it clearly come through that this came off the Chevron site?"

Samson said he had “no idea” the number of hits this particular video has gotten, but, overall, Chevron's outreach efforts are intended to address the issues raised by the plaintiffs for stakeholders and people looking for information about this case. He said the company wants to offer its side of the story that might not be clear in the mainstream media.

“We [did the video] in a way that raised the claim being raised by the plaintiffs,” said Samson. “We're targeting employees, community groups and organizations that our partners, vendors, and a range of stakeholders that have an interest in Chevron's operations. [They] need to understand that there's another side of this story that they may not be seeing through general media reporting.”

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