British Gas drive after bad press

British Gas plans to combat this week's negative headlines with a PR campaign placing the onus for lowering bills on the consumer.

Julian Mears, media relations manager for British gas parent company Centrica, said he and his in-house team would be 'communicating the benefits of being energy efficient'.

He added: 'We are conveying that the way to ensure bills are manageable is to minimise the energy you need.'

The PR push comes after a week of negative publicity for British Gas, with the national media predicting the increase in wholesale fuel prices will send household gas bills rocketing.

Mears, who moved from Freud last year (PRWeek, 15 November 2007), said that British Gas' comms team was ensuring this news was seen in the context of the current economic downturn.

'The overarching message is that the market is volatile,' he said. 'From a PR perspective, we need to provide a context. The cost of living is rising on a daily basis. What British Gas is doing is no different to other companies.'

As part of the company's proactive PR plan, British Gas has also joined up with think tank the IPPR for the 'Green Streets' initiative, which will produce statistics on how everyday consumers use energy.

Mears and Centrica's in-house team are also coordinating a mail-out of 52 million energy efficient light bulbs to British Gas customers.

- Media Relations, p13.

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