Tuesday, July 27, 2010
This story is instructive. It is a report of the aftermath of a public affairs program that has stalled and might have failed. The utility industry spent tens of millions of dollars lobbying Congress for a cap-and-trade system to handle climate change. Then last week, the Senate balked because the Democrats realized they don't have the votes for legislation. Everyone behind the program is exhausted, discouraged and ready to quit, but there is no choice but to play the rest of the effort out. The story highlights that even the best and well-funded communications programs sometimes fail, and there is little one can do about it. Senators struggling with a slow economy and joblessness aren't about to pass a law that might impact the economy negatively. Cap-and-trade might be the right bill but it is the wrong time. Every PR and public affairs practitioner can tell a similar story. It has happened to all of us. The difference this time was the size of the effort.