Oil and gas industry fights drilling controversy

CHARLESTON, WV: The Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia has launched a campaign to counteract the perception that unconventional drilling methods are bad for the environment.

CHARLESTON, WV: The Independent Oil and Gas Association (IOGA) of West Virginia has launched a campaign to counteract the perception that unconventional drilling methods are bad for the environment.

“With our success, the industry has come under more and more scrutiny. Regulators and legislators have also become more involved in what we do,” said Mike McCown, president of IOGA, which represents about 500 member companies. “We felt it was high time we educate the public on the benefits of natural gas, including to the local economy.”

The “Just Beneath the Surface” campaign from IOGA also addresses the environmental standards and regulations surrounding natural gas extraction. It pays particular attention to the controversial horizontal drilling method being used to tap the Marcellus shale field, believed to hold one of the country's largest reserves of natural gas.

The campaign centers on a website as well as several social media components, including a Facebook pageYouTube channel and Twitter feed.

Charles Ryan Associates is handling PR and advertising for the campaign.

Grassroots outreach is a significant part of the effort, McCown explained. “We are going to a lot of meetings with business leaders, associations, rotary clubs, chambers of commerce — basically anyone who will listen.”

He said they also plan to set up booths at festivals and fairs throughout the fall.

IOGA is organizing rallies in support of natural gas across West Virginia and promoting them through social media.

Matt Sutton, manager of strategy and research for Charles Ryan Associates, told PRWeek the next step is to expand the reach of the campaign. “The campaign is sponsored by IOGA but is not exclusive to them,” he said. “We are trying to recruit other industry partners and co-ops to help build the brand.”

The budget for the campaign is not being disclosed.

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