Public Relations and Climate Politics

PI: Dr. Robert J. Brulle

Since 2019, student researchers with the Climate and Development Lab have researched the
extent of public relations firms’ influence on climate politics, and have detailed just how complex
and expensive these PR campaigns can be.  Through this research, certain public relations
campaigns emerged as uniquely influential in shaping the corporate reputation of clients with
regard to climate change. While previous research has shown which public relations firms
worked on these powerful campaigns, questions remain about how these campaigns were able
to shape public and elite opinions on climate politics. This fall, students will take a deep dive into
the EcoImagination campaign for General Electric, Beyond Petroleum for BP, Clean Coal for
American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, and the WE campaign for the Alliance for Climate
Protection. The study will seek to answer several questions: Did these campaigns have a
lobbying component? How much did they cost? What were the deliverables promised to the
clients? These details are particularly important as the PR industry has faced growing pressure
to end relationships with clients that continue to advocate for fossil fuel use in the coming