'OIL' GETS INK (AND AIR)
By Jenny Constable
RMI Solutions Newsletter
The September 20 release of RMIs newest book, Winning the Oil Endgame: Innovation for Profits, Jobs, and Security, brought significant media coverage for the Institute. On release day, the online editions of the Wall Street Journal, Greenwire, Fortune, and Time covered WTOE (Fortune, Time, and the WSJ quickly ran print articles as well). Time called the book one of the best analyses of energy policy yet produced. The Christian Science Monitor, Energy Compass, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, and the Aspen Daily News also covered the book within days of its release. All told, the first week brought coverage by at least ten major news outlets around the country. Then, a 30 September column by the Denver Posts respected Diane Carman highlighted WTOE as an antidote to Americas acute failure of imagination in energy policy. In October, WTOE was mentioned in such diverse outlets as Renewable Energy Access, Wired News, and Oil Daily. A 6 October report in >I>New Scientist noted that the Pentagons partial funding of WTOE suggests that despite the current Administrations rhetoric that such measures are impractical, some branches of government are taking clean energy more seriously than it . . . seems. On 7 October, the Economist extolled the books sharp and sensible ideas. And the coverage seems to keep rolling in.
The authors have now completed over a dozen radio interviews about the book, and editorials in the Los Angeles Times, the Providence Journal, and the Buffalo News promoted it. A 20 December Wall Street Journal op-ed by President Reagans national security advisor, Robert C. McFarlane called it [p]erhaps the most rigorous . . . analysis of what it will take to wean us from foreign oil. Yet, the ideas presented in WTOE arent revolutionary compared to the work RMI produces regularly. The Institute constantly touts efficiency as the fastest growing energy source and the cheapest new supply. So why havent these ideas and solutions received more attention from the press?
Many at the Institute believe thats because WTOE responds to a specific problem: U.S. dependence on oil. WTOEs focus makes it easier for journalists to see how its findings relate to issues they are covering and resources that affect their audiences pocketbooks.
The timing of the release was excellent, said Karen Nozik, RMIs communications director. Its relevant to a broad range of constituencies because virtually everyone is influenced by the role oil plays in our economy. The book targeted business and military leaders, showing them how to accomplish their goals better, while the economy struggled. High oil prices since summer kept energy in the news. And, energy independence was part of the fall political debate, so folks on both sides of the aisle were open to its recommendations.
In addition, powerful comments from experts have boosted the books success. President Jimmy Carter wrote: Its novel but persuasive ideas, which hold promise of revitalizing American industry and agriculture, should appeal to conservatives and liberals alike. William F. Martin, former National Security Council staff director and deputy secretary of energy called it one of the most important energy studies in decades. Former Royal/Dutch Shell head of scenario planning Peter Schwartz, now chairman of Global Business Network, called WTOE thoroughly comprehensive and imaginative; Bill Glover, director of environmental performance strategy for Boeing Commercial Airplanes named it a masterpiece. We hope WTOEs success in the media will help us learn how to better position RMIs ideas.
The great systems thinker Dana Meadows once wrote, There is only one force in the modern world that can cause the entire public to think differently. That force is the mass media. This book has helped us make significant progress in using the media to create positive change in the world. Perhaps RMIs next publication will bring us even more coverage and help more people think differently.
Google results: (Winning the Oil Endgame)
Complete book downloads [.pdf file] as of 31 Jan. 2005:
[PHOTO CAPTION: All five authors have been a part of the Winning the Oil Endgame media campaign. Nathan Glasgow has done radio interviews with stations from Salt Lake City to Troy, N.Y.]