Bill McKibben
Bill McKibben

PR firms have been put on notice that their “multimillion-dollar greenwashing and misinformation campaigns” for fossil fuel clients that delay action on global warming are going to be outed, according to the Clean Creatives organization, a group of communications professionals supported by Fossil Free Media.

Launched Nov. 19, CC aims to reveal the relationships between PR firms and fossil fuel clients, organize staffers who “feel conflicted about making propaganda for oil and gas companies” and contact sustainability-minded clients who might feel unhappy that their firm is actively undermining progress on climate change, according to a statement from Jamie Henn of Fossil Free Media.

The launch of CC coincides with a widely-read New Yorker article by longtime environmental activist Bill McKibben.

In his “When ‘Creatives’ Turn Destructive: Image-Makers and the Climate Crisis,” McKibben wrote that PR, lobbying and advertising agencies provide the rationalizations and the justifications that slow the pace of climate action. Although these agencies are less significant monetarily than the banks, they are more so intellectually; if money is the oxygen on which the fire of global warming burns, then PR campaigns and snappy catchphrases are the kindling," he wrote.

Look for firms to follow the lead of Porter Novelli for its decision to cut ties with American Public Gas Association and its social media campaign to get millennials to incorporate natural gas into their lifestyles.

“Porter Novelli is committed to regularly assessing evolving issues, the science that guides them and the impact on diverse, global audiences,” said Maggie Graham, PN’s global chief of staff, in a statement. “We have determined our work with the American Public Gas Association is incongruous with our increased focus and priority on addressing climate justice—we will no longer support that work beyond 2020.”

CC claims PN’s decision followed inquiries from McKibben and calls it the campaign’s first win.

Donald Trump has used General Motors CEO Mary Barra as a PR punching bag. She has now hit back.

“Always a mess with Mary B,” Trump tweeted during the height of the pandemic after he accused GM of moving too slowly on making ventilators.

Following GM’s decisions to close plants in Michigan and Ohio in 2018, Trump told reporters that he was very tough with GM’s CEO and told her “you better get back in” referring to GM’s plant in Lordstown, Ohio.

The Detroit Free Press published an article on April 1 called “President Trump’s Shots at GM have Left Company Insiders Deeply Troubled.”

Barra though has made a strong comeback with her Nov. 23 decision to cut ties with Trump’s campaign to nullify California’s strict fuel efficiency standard.

Her decision to withdraw GM’s support for the Trump administration was a “striking reversal” and a signal that Corporate America is moving on from president Trump, noted the New York Times. “President-elect Biden recently said, “ I believe that we can own the 21st century car market again by moving to electric vehicles.’ We at GM couldn’t agree more,” Barra said.

The Times called GM’s move “a public humiliation” to Trump. Barra gave no warning to the White House, though she did speak to California’s top climate regulator who put together the Obama-era fuel economy moves.

Good job, Mary.