Sunday, October 09, 2005

No One Asked Alaska 

It is always helpful to remember there are two sides to nearly every issue. One of my favorites for this is Alaskan oil and gas development. Nearly all commentators in the Lower 48 push to keep Alaska pristine. No one, however, asked Alaskans who are eager for developmentt because it means jobs and livelihoods where now few are to be had. This is an issue that has even divided native Alaskans. There are progressive tribes with indoor plumbing who want jobs and revenues from oil pumping, and there are traditionalists (who use gas-eating snowmobiles), but don't have indoor plumbing and want to keep things as they are. Similar circumstances divide Canadians in the oil sands region where mining is creating an evironmental disaster.

From a public relations point of view, it is easy to take one side or the other, depending on whom you serve. It is more difficult to take a balanced view, but it is a balanced view that a PR practitioner should take because balance requires respect for facts, for all issues in a case and not just facts you prefer to recognize.

I, for one, intensely dislike unbridled development. The "strip malling" of American comes from collusion of real estate developers and local authorities eager to override urban planning for the sake of property tax dollars. But, as much as I dislike what I consider to be unbridled greed, I also have to accept there are good reasons for towns and cities to do this and similar reasons for developers to build shopping centers. The result, however, is that urban planning rarely works as advertised, and thousands of miles of American roads are ugly. Just saying no to situations like this are not enough. One must find solutions that both sides can live with. That's not easy. True PR requires deep understanding of issues and from that understanding realistic paths for publics to take.


Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?