Thursday, April 2, 2009

Marketing Strategies, Adjustment of

Transition Town OKC (henceforth TTOKC) is really rolling now. We have published our website, found a few ways to raise awareness about peak oil and we are working on a PowerPoint presentation that can be customized to whatever venue.

We are scheduled to speak at an End of Suburbia showing, table at a Methodist Earth Day event, present a slide show to the Unitarians, and speak at a Book Club meeting (they are discussing the Transition Town Handbook). Just today we got permission from the Paseo Arts Association to set up a table at their local art walk, "First Fridays".

TTOKC did, however, run into some resistance when we contacted the library system. Apparently their "research" determined that peak oil is a philosophical belief and that we are therefore a political group, which is so far from the truth... If we were going to have an event sponsored by the library, we would have to have someone present "both sides of the story". I'm curious, what IS the other side of the story? Oil supplies are infinite and there are no pollution problems or climate change? There should be a lot of data to back that up.

It seems that the term peak oil is often associated with doomers, conspiracy theorists, and shotgun toting survivalists (not that I have anything against surviving). People's brains tend to shut down when they hear the phrase. I think I should have expected this problem, but somehow it took me a little bit by surprise.

We've decided to reframe peak oil as "the Energy Challenge", at least temporarily, at least when speaking to gatekeepers. You know how Americans like a challenge. It sounds like something competitive. So now TTOKC will be reworking our website and our pamphlets to focus more on the energy challenge than on peak oil - although we won't be taking the phrase "peak oil" out of everything.

It's not global warming, it's climate change! It's not the estate tax, it's the death tax! Frankly, I like the phrase peak oil. I feel it's a very succinct term that explains the problem. Our group can talk about "going local" and "sustainability" all we want, but I feel that unless we have a good, convincing description of the PROBLEM, we aren't going to motivate very many people to change.

As we start interacting more directly with the public, we will need to find a method that makes it easy for people to communicate face-to-face. Catchphrases to use, nifty graphs, easy examples, interesting pictures. There's some great pictures and articles in the most recent edition of the National Geographic.

Actually, I would like to make communicating the peak oil problem as fun as possible (short of handing out free margaritas). This morning I am meeting with some of the my fellow Steering Committee members to come up with some ideas. I am definitely going to have to re-train my brain to avoid the term peak oil. It's going to take time...

Has anyone else run into this issue? Does anyone have a good catchphrase we can use aside from peak oil or the energy challenge?


Verde said...

I think this problem is a common one. If you are looking for an opposite point of view, I suggest inviting the library person who made the decision.

I have been involved with Interfaith Power and Light in the past. Probably some of the same people IPL are involved in TTOKC. These folks have experience with meeting resistance and would also be a partnership.

nika said...

I agree with Verde - push the burden back onto this library person. If they have a Dr. Seuss reading, do they need to have an anti-dr. suess POV presented too?

How about a breastfeeding group? Will they require an anti-breastfeeding speaker as well?

Sounds like this person has been swilling the FauxNews "fair but balanced" canard.

I am so very happy for you all re: getting the transition group going!

Huge achievement.

Lewru said...

Frau, what a great way to reconnect with the issues! Phrasing is important, unfortunately, and I think your marketing strategy is solid.

Peak Oil Hausfrau said...

I should note that the library did say we could rent rooms from them. But they wouldn't sponsor our program or provide free space they way they do for some groups, due to the "political" nature of "the energy challenge" ;).

Thanks nika - that's exactly what I thought!!

Thanks Verde - I will see if there are any IPL members around here.

Alison Kerr said...

It's a shame that everything seems to come down to politics. As soon as we put across a point of view and suggest actively contacting our elected government officials we move from being a citizen to being an activist. At least that's how it seems to me.

How about The Sustainable Earth Challenge, The Local Sustainability Challenge, or Self-Sufficient OKC?

Kiashu said...

You need to think of Pat Meadows' and Sharon Astyk's Theory of Anyway - the things we do to mitigate climate change and peak oil, they're good things to do anyway.

Thrift and health are big parts of this.

About nine-tenths the things you do to avoid climate change and reduce the hurt of fossil fuel decline are thrifty things. We have an immense amount of waste in our lives. So you could call it the Thrift Challenge or something.

Then all the thrifty things you offer just-by-accident-happen-to-be "green" things, too.

"Walking is cheaper than driving, lentils are cheaper than beef, hot drinks and thick jumpers are cheaper than heating, growing your own vegies is cheaper than buying them, and so on."

"What, those are "green", as well? Didn't know that! Funny, I never thought of that."

That'd probably tie in well with the Greater Depression the US is coming up on, too.

Usually it's healthier, too. Like eating heaps of fresh fruit and vegies and whole grains and beans and walking or cycling everywhere generally leads to better health than eating lots of McDs and drinking sodas and driving everywhere.

In a barbaric country like the US where healthcare is so expensive, that's gotta be a selling point.

So maybe, the Health & Thrift Group?

I mean, our own "green" lifestyle means that in five years we saved enough for a 50% deposit on a home, and will own it free and clear in five more years, and we are fit and healthy and hardly ever sick. Whereas our friends with a different lifestyle are paying interest-only on their loans and stopped having sex and are overweight and sick all the time and...

So even if the Earth had a creamy nougat center of oil and burning coal gave us vitamin C, these are all good things to do anyway.

A common reaction is "oh but I don't want to live in a cave." So maybe it's good to focus on what to do, rather than on why we should do it.

Like my friend says, "I care about the environment, but -"
"Bugger the environment," I say, "you're fat and sick and no longer have sex with your wife. With my lifestyle, other way around."

He is not convinced, but you'll never convince everyone.

risa said...

So GLAD you are doing this, TT rocks.