Mastering Messaging


Author of Fossil Fuels Improve the Planet and “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels: The Key to Winning Hearts and Minds.”

OVER THE LAST DECADE, energy executives, particularly in the fossil fuel industry, have come to recognize improving their company’s (and industry’s) messaging is not a side job but a financial imperative. I would go further. Unless your company is on the verge of an epic breakthrough or discovery, improving your messaging has the highest ROI of any activity you can undertake.

Why? Because any million-or-billion-dollar project of any energy company can be made or broken depending on how effectively it has communicated with 5 Impact Audiences:

  1. Opponents
  2. Political officials
  3. Stakeholders
  4. Voters
  5. Shareholders

A shareholder opposition initiative, such as those spearheaded by the growing “fossil fuel divestment movement,” can cost billions of dollars in market capitalization. Project delays from officials or stakeholders who didn’t respond to your message can cost millions of dollars a day.

So what to do?

While it is important to invest in better messaging, that investment must be chosen very, very carefully—because while better messaging has a huge upside, worse messaging has a huge downside.

Every time you open your mouth or type a sentence you can have a positive impact or a negative impact. At CIP when we assess our communication and clients’ communication we use a scale of -5 to 5.

In “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels: The Key to Winning Hearts and Minds,” I explain why much of the fossil fuel industry’s communication is in negative territory.

Your attackers have successfully portrayed your core product, fossil fuel energy, as a self-destructive addiction that is destroying our planet…

There is only one way to defeat the environmentalists’ moral case against fossil fuels—refute its central idea that fossil fuels destroy the planet…

Unfortunately, the fossil fuel industry has not refuted the moral case against fossil fuels. In fact, the vast majority of its communications reinforce the moral case against fossil fuels.

I also outlined the moral case for fossil fuels—the foundation, I believe, of any truly effective communications strategy.

It is the foundation—but effective messaging requires much more of an individual or a team. Effective messaging requires a rare balance of aptitudes and experience: a knowledge of the best arguments for fossil fuels, experience persuading individuals one-on-one, experience persuading large crowds, experience debating the opposition, extensive study of the principles of persuasion, and, most of all, success in winning over individuals that are hard to win over.

Having or improving each of these is money in the bank—literally. Not having them, or not focusing on them, is throwing money away on unnecessary project delays.

So how to improve in these areas? The first step is to know where you stand—where you can improve the most.

To make this easy, I’ve created a free Messaging Self-Assessment, which you can access here. It will help you identify your (or your team’s) strengths and weaknesses, and the highest-leverage areas to focus on. When you send it in, I’ll have one of CIP’s communications consultants review it individually (and confidentially) and send you customized action steps.

This Assessment is perfect for anyone who works in:

  • Executive Communications
  • Internal Communications
  • External Communications
  • Government Relations
  • Investor Relations
  • Media Relations
  • Recruiting

I hope you will take 15 minutes to fill CIP’s Messaging Self-Assessment. I think you will find it well, well worth the time.

Alex Epstein
Center for Industrial Progress


PS—If you would like to learn about more comprehensive solutions that CIP can provide, feel free to email me at