Gas prices spark PR fires

WASHINGTON, DC: As the price of oil rises, so too does the anger of the American consumer. The petroleum industry, however, has already begun to take steps to combat PR problems caused by escalating gas prices.

WASHINGTON, DC: As the price of oil rises, so too does the anger of the American consumer. The petroleum industry, however, has already begun to take steps to combat PR problems caused by escalating gas prices.

WASHINGTON, DC: As the price of oil rises, so too does the anger of

the American consumer. The petroleum industry, however, has already

begun to take steps to combat PR problems caused by escalating gas

prices.



Since the situation developed rather quickly, the American Petroleum

Institute is attempting to be fluid and flexible in regard to short- and

long-term PR strategy.



’Gas prices fluctuate with the price of crude, so when inflation is

considered on an adjusted basis, the price hikes are not that severe,’

explained API media spokesperson Bill Hickman. He added that while the

industry obviously does not like higher prices at the pump, he thinks

that public concern will quickly dissipate as long as the increases are

only temporary.



Polling by Gallup last month seems to contradict this, however, with 40%

of Americans saying rising gas prices have already caused financial

hardship. The question, then, becomes whether petroleum companies are

doing enough to allay public fears.



BP/Amoco public affairs representative Dan Larson said that the oil

companies tend to adopt a ’reactive’ mode when oil prices inch upward.

He attributes this to memories of the 1970s, when gas price hikes and

reduced supply led to long lines at the pumps.



American Enterprise Institute public opinion expert Karlyn Keene Bowman

said that PR became an important issue to the industry during the tumult

of the 1970s. ’But back then, you had slow economic growth and high

inflation.



Right now, we’re missing those things.’



Still, even Bowman concedes that financial issues could pose a horrible

PR scenario for the petroleum industry if, as some experts are

predicting, the price for a gallon of gas rises to dollars 2.00 this

summer.



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