American Oil and Gas Reporter - October 2016 - 106

related. "At the time, I said 'don't depend
on that.' A year later, EPA has not paid a
single claim against it. Everything it has
done has been to defer attention away
from the spill, and we still have not gotten
to the bottom of it."
Colorado Initiatives
Since early this year, political observers
in Colorado and the oil and gas industry
have watched with concern this year's
crop of proposed anti-industry initiatives
march toward a possible place on the
November ballot. What started as four
proposals was whittled to two in late
spring, but both of those carried the potential for considerable disruption if they
won voter approval, according to political
advisers.
Paul Phillips, president of PacWest, a
communications consulting firm that
works with the Western Energy Alliance
on political issues and grass-roots organizing, cited the expense incurred by supporters of the initiatives and the benefits
to industry of its months-long program
this year to "organize our base" of support
across Colorado.
Phillips noted that political advertisements opposed to the initiatives were
placed in advance and were to air over
the Labor Day holiday, regardless whether
the proposals made the ballot. Then,
within two weeks of the Alliance's convention, both initiatives were disqualified
for not meeting required signature minimums, according to the secretary of state's
office.
Initiative 75 would have authorized
local governments to pre-empt state law
and regulate oil and gas development
within their borders. Initiative 78 would
have established a 2,500-foot setback for
all new oil and gas facilities from any
occupied structure. This measure was
criticized widely by regulators, academics,
industry, and the business community for
virtually prohibiting any new development
across the state, Phillips pointed out.
According to an analysis of Initiative
78's potential impact conducted by the
Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission, the measure would have put development off limits for "85 percent of
surface area in Weld County, the state's
largest oil and gas producing county"
and 95 percent of the surface area of the
next four producing counties: Garfield,
La Plata, Rio Blanco and Las Animas.
Both measures would have amended
the state's constitution, had they passed.
Proponents faced a Sept. 28 deadline to
appeal the secretary of state's decision.
This year's election still presents a
challenge for industry, Phillips commented.
"Our support for the 'Raise the Bar' ini-

tiative must continue, and the industry
must stay focused on the legislature, since
it could make the initiatives effective
statutorily," he said.
Reaching Millennials
Charlie Kirk, founder and executive
director of Turning Point USA, warned
the Alliance in a keynote address that
colleges across the country were pushing
anti-capitalism, anti-fossil-fuel agendas
funded with money from student tuition.
Formed in 2012, Kirk's group has
achieved success on many campuses by
supporting free-market, limited-government candidates for student body president
and student councils.
"Four years later, we are on 1,000
college and high school campuses across
the country," he said. "We now have a
field staff of 100 people, and last spring,
our grass-roots efforts resulted in the
launch of 150 new chapters."
Kirk said he formed Turning Point
USA after seeing firsthand how far the
movement to stifle free expression on university campuses had come. "Everything
you hear about life on today's college
campuses-the safe spaces, the trigger
warnings, talk of micro-aggression-is
worse than what you have heard."
When his group applied for recognition
as a sanctioned student organization on
40 college campuses, 30 applications
were denied by elected student leaders.
With its tag line "Capitalism Works,"
Turning Point USA aims to educate young
people while they are impressionable and
seeking information. "We are talking to
them about the positives of fossil fuels,
and their role in our prosperity and the
development of Western civilization,"
Kirk said.
As a generation, he said, Millennials
have become desensitized to the techno-

106 THE AMERICAN OIL & GAS REPORTER

Sean Tonner, president of R&R Partners
in Denver, emphasizes the importance
of creating brand appeal and effectively
utilizing social media during a presentation to the Western Energy Alliance's
annual meeting, Aug. 17-18 in Vail, Co.

logical innovations and free enterprise
system that have made their lifestyles
possible. "Worse," he said, "we are training
a generation of citizens to suppress other
people's ideas just because they disagree
with them."
Asked for his impression of today's
advertising by the oil and gas industry,
Kirk said it was not effective in reaching
the younger generation. Industry messages
are too serious and "corporate," and "miss
the boat when it comes to communicating
with Millennials," he held.
"The opposition gets away with murder
in its advertising, but industry plays it
safe. It should go after the environmentalists directly," Kirk maintained.
Content Is King
Sean Tonner, President of R&R Partners
in Denver, provided a review of the importance of reaching an audience with
more than simply a message. The key is
creating a brand that appeals on a personal
level, he argued.
Tonner's agency created the "What
Happens in Vegas" brand for Las Vegas.
"That brand says 'freedom' and gives
Las Vegas a unique attraction," Tonner
said.
He advised the Alliance audience of
the opportunity to reach the groups they
were interested in with basic videos
through a dedicated channel on YouTube.
"Content is king," he emphasized. "For
the cost of a single commercial on the 10
o'clock news, you could develop enough
video content to last for an entire year."
The other avenue is online display
advertising, Tonner went on. "There was
$28 billion spent last year on online ads;
this year it will be about $36 billion," he
said. "You can see where things are headed."
Online advertising allows advertisers
to reach specific audience groups. "Today,
we can target audiences with a rifle shot
rather than the shotgun approach of traditional advertising," Tonner said.
And video is where online advertising
is headed, he counseled. "Within two
years, the majority of content posted to
Facebook will be video," he predicted.
"Use humor or tell compelling stories,
but they have to be authentic," Tonner
encouraged. "Just know the audience you
are trying to reach and where they live
online."
Search engine optimization also is
critical for any effort to reach online audiences, Tonner continued. "Most people
won't go past the first page of a Google
search," he articulated. "You have to pop
up at the top of the search if you want
people to find you."
Tonner said he also advised clients



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Oil and Gas Reporter - October 2016

Contents
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