Ewan MacLeod Here at Greenbang we are seriously impressed with the videos that Shell has been publishing recently. I came across one the other...


Ewan MacLeod

Here at Greenbang we are seriously impressed with the videos that Shell has been publishing recently. I came across one the other day — and I was so impressed, I even rated the video and posted a comment on it.

If you haven’t seen them, here’s the overview: Shell has given a camera to selected recent graduates and asked them to record a diary of their experiences across their first year. I’d imagine that if I was looking to join Shell as a graduate, these Youtube-friendly inclusive, welcoming and ‘raw’ videos would certainly help form a positive viewpoint of the company in my mind.

So 10/10 Shell, for getting the first bit correct. We’ll leave you to hunt for the Shell videos directly on Youtube rather than linking.

That’s because we’re seriously, seriously unimpressed at how Shell’s marketing and public relations team have conducted themselves in regard to this issue.

Shell has produced these videos. Obviously they want coverage of them. Hence the email we received this morning from Burston Marseteller (Shell’s PR company of choice) asking if we’d be interested in a) providing feedback on the videos) and b) posting the videos here on Greenbang.

Our Editor Dan wrote back explaining that for any analysis of company activities, we charge for our time. He also explained that we’d be delighted to publish the videos in our ad-funded section.

Of course the team at Burston Marseteller couldn’t help. Shell has provided no budget to them for this purpose.

Which raises a serious conundrum that we face daily at Greenbang.

When a billion dollar company pays what must have been tens of thousands of pounds per video — along with at least 10-30k/month to a PR company of BM’s status — why, when they want to reach the Greenbang audience with their precise messaging, does the budget suddenly disappear?

We think Shell needs to understand that if they’ve just discovered the secret of manufacturing electricity from dead leaves, that we’ll be all over it. That Greenbang will use its editorial budget to SEND one of us to their offices to cover the story. If it’s relevant, we do our absolute best to cover it. If the company in question is aiming to push a particular message continually … well, obviously, that’s when you talk to our advertising team.

But when Shell wants to do a lot of back-slapping about how good it’s recent HR outreach is? Well, that’s when it’s time to discuss how they can help support Greenbang — and the rest of the publications on which the green/energy and innovation business relies upon.

You can imagine the outrage from Burston Marsteller, typed through the virtual equivalent of pursed lips:

“Thanks for getting back to me. I don’t think Shell would let go of the budget for this.”

I guess that shows what Shell really thinks of us…and what love Burson Marsteller has for what we do.

The PR Dan dealt with later added: “Listen, thanks for your help – you have requirements which Shell cannot meet. They have requirements you cannot meet. I apologise for that, as we work with bloggers a lot in this agency and understand that.”

We’d have happily worked with them. We’d even have posted a thank-you to Shell for their generous support. You, the reader, would have understood this — and, we’re confident that you’d have also gone on to browse the videos and read the posts too.

Startup companies pay for us to analyse their technology and ideas. Other companies pay for their ads on the site. So why should we give these free to Shell – of all companies?

Alas it’s going to be some time before billion dollar companies such as Shell, stuck in their one-to-many ‘broadcast’ setting, will understand this and react accordingly.

But you can’t blame just Shell for this. Other energy firms have also been trying to get  freebies from us.

Just the other day, Lexus PR, the communications firm for energy giant EDF emailed, saying:

We (EDF Energy) are working with the Dummies Guide to produce ‘Energy Buying for Dummies’ and ‘Carbon Management Strategies for Dummies’. We think this could work really well as a downloadable PDF on Greenbang.com as a editorial opportunity. Its really to give people a simple way of understanding how these areas work.

Did they want to pay the same report hosting fees as other advertisers have? You bet they didn’t. They wanted it ‘free’.

We’ve heard for years that ‘green business is good business’. So we have a policy here that other than the news we put out, we don’t do free – we charge and we make money because we’re a publication and a business too. If you don’t respect that, you might be better off placing your free ad and time requests elsewhere.

Now watch this…

Dan Ilett