The upstream oil and gas industry team within the FTI Consulting Strategic Communications Practice includes sector experts with experience representing a broad range of organisations and companies, from start-ups to multinationals. Our clients benefit from the team’s relationships with key influencers to seize opportunities, manage crises, navigate market disruptions, articulate brands, stake a competitive position, and preserve a client’s permission to operate. We have the breadth and depth of experience to help clients clarify, persuade and ensure that the right message reaches the right audience at the right time.
Our Service Offerings
Historically, the energy industry in general and its participants have not communicated their stories very well. External communications have been non-existent or guarded at best. As a result, corporate reputations and public trust in the industry are low. Companies need to tell their story, not just after a crisis, but also on an ongoing basis to communicate what they are about, what they are doing (and why) and why they are competent and can be trusted. Corporate communications is basically doing the everyday heartbeat outreach to build, sustain and defend an organisation’s reputation. FTI Consulting Strategic Communications professionals are highly experienced and well equipped to help individual companies and entire industry sectors defend their licence to operate by highlighting innovation, sustainability, corporate responsibility and the enormous economic contribution they make to society as employers and providers of essential services.
Financial communications tend to be either defensive or offensive. On the defensive side, for example, companies may be experiencing a declining share price or a rising bond price. FTI Consulting Strategic Communications professionals are highly experienced reaching and communicating with those people who influence financial performance — stakeholders, institutions, mutual and hedge funds and security analysts. It is critical that these audiences receive and understand a company’s key messages about corporate strengths, management strengths, corporate strategies and steps being taken to improve corporate performance. On the offensive side, financial communications should be ongoing, reinforcing the same company key messages — corporate strengths, management strengths, corporate strategies and steps being taken to improve corporate performance — usually in support of an IPO, acquisition, or to simply sustain existing share price performance.
Issues & Crisis Management
There are basically two types of crisis situations — the crisis of reputation where important audiences are losing faith in a company, its performance, and its leadership; or a high impact/low probability crisis such as an explosion at a production facility or the death of a senior executive. To help clients prepare for such eventualities, FTI Consulting professionals take a campaign-like approach to these challenges, closely coordinating with management teams, as well as legal, financial and other advisers to provide strategic counsel on all aspects of internal and external communications. We help identify, prioritise and track issues — economic, financial, political, industrial, or technical — that can impact on the client’s performance, its reputation and its value. We then advise on how to address them proactively to achieve a positive outcome.
Companies must consider each stakeholder group separately to engage in a proper dialogue with them. It is critical that all stakeholders be identified. FTI Consulting Strategic Communications specialists research all possible stakeholder groups, not just establishing who they are and how important they are to the company, but also what they want and need to know and what information the client can give them. This includes examining how our client has been communicating to them in the past and what it should be saying today and in the future. In addition, and just as importantly, clients need to listen to their stakeholders so that relevant messages can be crafted and addressed to each specific audience. FTI Consulting analyses and prioritises stakeholders and messages and develops programmes for clients that help facilitate audience-specific messaging to create a proper dialogue with those people who have the greatest financial influence on the client’s business.
Public Affairs & Policy
Legislation and regulation have an enormous impact on the upstream oil and natural gas industry. Political stakeholders, elected representatives at local and national levels, civil servants, people who work on the executive arm of the government, advisers, policy think tanks, commentators, and academics all play an important part in the public debate on natural gas and oil issues. It is critical that an upstream oil or natural gas company’s communications help it be better known among these groups, help it be listened to more, and help its interests be better understood when decisions are being made that affect its business. FTI Consulting works with individual companies and their trade associations to seek to affect government policy regarding permitting and licensing issues for upstream oil and natural gas facilities, as well as issues affecting existing installations such as state aid, patent discounts, etc. We also conduct grassroots campaigning in local communities to overcome resistance to a client’s new installation.
Planning & Public Consultation
Starting an upstream oil or gas project in the UK and throughout Europe is a very complex undertaking. It ranges from developing construction plans and applying for permits to satisfying all the requirements of government/regulatory agencies during construction and meeting the needs of the public who may not want your project in their backyards. FTI Consulting energy professionals are expert at guiding companies through this process, from the actual application and construction through to public consultations, holding meetings with local communities, talking to local elected representatives, etc. Communications are key. It is important that all audiences know and understand that you are a responsible company in a responsible industry, providing employment and an essential energy service.
In-depth market and stakeholder analysis can help upstream oil and gas companies solve complex business and communications problems. The FTI Consulting Strategic Communications team consists of professionals who have served in major strategy firms, research consultancies, political campaigns, financial institutions and academic bodies. Working closely with energy sector experts within FTI Consulting, our team rigorously researches stakeholder perceptions, client brands and competitive operations, as well as the financial markets. In addition, our international network enables us to conduct research in all relevant countries.
Legislative and regulatory pressures are becoming more prevalent in the upstream oil and gas sectors, which increase a company’s compliance obligations and can jeopardise its licence to operate. Managing political risk is a growing imperative for effective corporate governance and business planning. FTI Consulting combines public policy, capital markets and sector-specific expertise to offer a unique capability for upstream oil and natural gas clients operating at the critical intersection between business and government. Our involvement can extend from specific upstream oil or natural gas issues to ongoing government campaigning in support of client positions on tax, environmental or public policy issues.
From time to time, participants in upstream oil and gas markets may find themselves involved in some way in competition investigations relating to alleged antitrust violations, regulatory scrutiny of an M&A transaction, claims of state aid, or sector inquiries. Communicating effectively to the press, to relevant regulatory and legislative stakeholders, and to a firm’s investors and employees is a key component of protecting the firm’s reputation, allowing the business to function normally while the investigation is ongoing, and securing a rationale outcome. In these situations, FTI Consulting Strategic Communications professionals specialise in helping clients to interact constructively with political and regulatory audiences in articulating the larger business and political contexts in which the company operates, and the ways in which the public benefits as a result.
Rebranding & New Message Development
Rebranding can be a defensive or offensive strategy for upstream oil and gas companies. The company may need to distance itself from a negative perception that exists in the minds of consumers, investors, competitors, and other stakeholders. On the other hand, the company may want to communicate a new corporate strategy and messaging that the old brand cannot support. In either case, rebranding usually involves radical changes. FTI Consulting Strategic Communications specialists work with our clients to develop a consistent message framework for addressing key issues that affect the new brand. At the same time, we take a structured, research-based approach to identify, map and prioritise stakeholders to help create tailored messages that will strengthen stakeholder support. Then we go to work developing the new brand's logo, name, legal names, image, marketing strategy and advertising and public relations themes.