This year is pivotal for moving beyond coal and transitioning to cleaner forms of energy. From the federal level, where the EPA is implementing long-overdue pollution safeguards and reviewing upgrades for aging coal fleets, to the state level, where environmental quality officials are rewriting air quality plans and utilities commissions are making decisions on rates and resource plans, there has never been a more opportune time to move away from coal. Amid all of this activity, messaging and communications tactics and strategies are – and will continue to be – key in helping shape public discourse affecting coal transition decisions and decision-makers.
Recognizing the need for the many diverse coalitions working on this transition to share information and strategies, success stories and even ideas that flopped, Resource Media conceived of and organized a national conference on coal plant transition efforts and media strategy. Communicating Coal 2012 took place in Denver on July 11-13. The conference brought together communications and policy professionals from across the country – from tribal groups on the Navajo Nation and small community campaigns trying to move their rural electric cooperatives into the future to large national environmental and public health organizations – for a deep dive into in and outs of telling the story of how to move off of coal.
After securing seed funding for the conference, Resource Media used its relationships to secure funding support for the event from more than a half-dozen foundations and groups. We worked closely with the Sierra Club and others to form an advisory committee to help shape the agenda and reach out to coal communicators across the country, and we managed all aspects of organizing the event, from catering and A/V needs to building a website and overall conference strategy.
More than 120 people from around the country attended the event, which served as a springboard for ongoing dialog about media and messaging strategies that did not exist before the conference.