PRWeek Awards 2011: Issues and Crisis Management

After the UK launch of Oscar-nominated documentary Gasland, Cuadrilla Resources came under scrutiny for sourcing natural gas from shale rock formations. The Co-op, the film's sponsor, had gone further by commissioning the Tyndall Centre at Manchester University to report on the environmental damage and impact on human health of shale gas exploration and exploitation. The company's operations had also been linked with local earthquakes.

Issues and Crisis Management Award winner: Cuadrilla Resources ‘Illuminating Blackpool Rock: Looking for Shale Gas in the Bowland Basin’ with PPS Group

The select committee for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) was due to hear evidence on the future of shale gas, and Cuadrilla's work at its two sites licensed by DECC was at stake.


This was an issue that impacted North America and could have affected the UK, but the issue was very well handled

David Wilson Chairman, Bell Pottinger PR

PPS developed national and local strategies using public affairs, media management and community relations. It highlighted Cuadrilla's well-managed operations and invited the Government, media and opinion formers to see the company's processes and technology.

Gathering reports, images, expert opinion and geological data in weeks was vital to equip Cuadrilla with the information it needed to tackle media enquiries. After media training, CEO Mark Miller became the official spokesman of the organisation. He talked to journalists visiting the site and presented a video on the company's website and on YouTube. The whole company was prepared for a visit from members of the select committee.

Cuadrilla gained positive coverage from media such as Sky News, BBC Radio, ITV, Channel 4, The Times, The Guardian, the Daily Express and the Financial Times. Government ministers, civil servants and local MPs spoke positively about Cuadrilla and an attempt by opposition groups to stand against sitting councillors in seats close to the company's two locations at local elections was defeated.

The DECC select committee issued its report on shale gas and made no substantive recommendations to restrict exploration, ruling out a moratorium and ensuring Cuadrilla's future was intact.

The Awards 2011 book will be available in this week's issue of PRWeek

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