Operators: let's write our own narrative
I love this industry, the people in it, what we do, and more importantly the community. However, if I wasn't IN this industry I would think every one in the oil & gas industry was out to destroy the environment, were low educated, redneck, greedy, rich because the government subsidies and the list goes on. Why do people think this way about our industry and the people in it? It's the way the narrative is being created against the industry (through mainstream media, movies, children's movies and shows, etc.) and more importantly it's been our historic response as an industry: don't do anything but respond...or in other words, allow others to create our own narrative and be on the defensive.
Old school and new school
We are a proud industry, an industry that knows what we are doing is serving the world and creating so much affordable, transportable, storable energy, and disposable energy out there, along side of providing the world with so many great things such as jackets, electricity for EV vehicles, medicine, shoes, toothbrushes and more. But we are also an industry that takes the approach of: no news is good is, and these grand paid advertisements to show people how much an operator cares about the community.
These two approaches might have worked in the past, but the problem is they don't work now, and we are under attack. Our response when we are under attack to date has been to appease and apologize. We pump more money into creating advertisements that show what we are doing to integrate ESG in our everyday operations, what we do for the community, and of course another commercial looking team building a house advertisement.
Problem with this approach is: we don't have the trust for this to be effective, we aren't keeping up to the times with how we want to be portrayed. We are letting someone else write our story and who we are. Only we are responding by either shouting back louder and prouder, or trolling. My question here is: why don't we write our own story?
In this post covid world, not just our industry has shifted, but many industries have shifted in perception, attractiveness, and opportunity. We are in an opportunity to respond in ways that show the world who we are. The way to do this, is connecting it to the people. Making the person be the brand ambassador, an industry ambassador. We are seeing it more and more in service companies in their online brand presence. Some companies are allowing their employees to push the envelope and create innovative ways to connect with their audience, as a result it personalizes the company.
This is a message to the operators/the face of our industry: What an opportunity for you to create our own narrative! To loosen the reins on your employees and let them create a personality for your company. For too long (and still currently), operators have been just a faceless name, with maybe a CEO tied to it that is an up and comer or something. This is where we have a huge opportunity to create our own narrative on who the hell we are. When people outside our industry think of our industry, majority of the time they aren't thinking of oilfield service companies, they are thinking of the mean and greedy E&P companies. A faceless, greedy, suited up, environment hater, who just wants to exploit people for a buck.
To me that's bullshit, couldn't be farther from the truth. I think operators need to do a better job of letting your employees create your brand, and tell the story of who we actually are. We have an opportunity to bring personality to a company, not just a mission statement. Not just a paid advertisement that shows employees in the same shirt probably on a saturday, putting up house frames (which I love by the way, but it feels like an advertisement). In this bullshit "fossil fuels vs renewable" faux war brought to you by politicians and media, the only way to win will be through personalizing the operators, putting the great people in our community out there to tell their story and why they are doing what they are doing. You "win" this with hearts and minds, and no better way to get a connection with people is through our own stories and personalities.
Too often on my podcast when I ask an operator to come on, many are very hesitant as they could get into real trouble. After I assure them I'm not here to discuss their company or their plans, only then do they agree to come on. To me, this is backwards in today's world. When so many podcasts are consumed, and so many eyes on our industry, why would you not want your best and brightest and most passionate out there telling our story. Sure boundaries can be set: no discussing work, no discussing future company plans or any confidential information, etc.
Besides of telling our story, it would begin to build a personality for your company. There is no better way of connecting with people, than creating a personality,/humanizing your brand, a feeling about what people think of when they hear your name. Invest in your employees, what makes you unique? What makes your company fun? What is something to celebrate in one of your employees lives? Who are you? What do we do?
To put up a fight, we need to do a better job and seize the opportunity to begin to tell our narrative in new, personal, and genuine ways. So when people begin to think of "big oil", they will begin to see a community with many different unique personalities with people with stories working there. When you have that, you have their hearts and minds, when you have that, you won't have to be so annoyed as often when being in such an awesome industry.
Time to build your online presence and showcase who we really are as a community, and write our own narrative.