World’s biggest PR firm ends relationship with US oil lobby

Oil pump jack, Texas. Creative Commons: Paul Lowry, 2008

Oil pump jack, Texas. Creative Commons: Paul Lowry, 2008

Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm, is ending its business relationship with the American Petroleum Institute (API).

While circumstances for the divorce are currently unclear, it is suspected that rising pressure on Edelman to distance itself from climate deniers is a factor.

Edelman has been working with API for almost a decade. The work involved advertising and PR efforts to build public support for initiatives such as the Keystone XL pipeline, tax deductions for the oil industry, and expanding drilling on public lands.

The contract between Edelman and the API was speculated to be among the most lucrative associations in the world.

In 2010, Edelman’s contract with API accounted for 10% of their global revenue.

Between 2008-2012, API is said to have paid Edelman more then $347 million. In 2008 alone, revenue from the oil lobby reached $75 million, more then a third of that collected in membership dues from ExxonMobil, Chevron, and other oil companies.

Although the API also uses other PR companies, such as Fleishman Hillard, Edelman is said to have had favored status with the oil lobby.

But this past year, Edelman came under criticism for its ties with API and other industries that have promoted misinformation about climate change.

When other PR firms announced they would no longer be working with climate deniers last year, Edelman was called out for its work with API.

In order to catch up to the new industry standard, Edelman declared it would no longer represent climate deniers as well.

Later Edelman received criticism for its involvement with the TransCanada pipeline company. The firm advised the pipeline company on a “perpetual campaign” against opponents of its pipeline project in eastern Canada.

Edelman’s subsidiary, Blue Advertising, handled much of the advertising work for API. Blue Advertising will divest from Edelman in order to continue to work for the oil lobby.

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