Public Relations Investigations

Over various projects and reports, the Climate Investigations Center has been researching the role of the public relations industry in policy making and public opinion. Navigate below to our public relations investigations.

Trade associations and the public relations industry

Trade Associations and the Public Relations Industry

Researchers at the Climate Investigations Center have tracked and analyzed “independent contractor” expenditures of select trade associations going back to 2008, using data from publicly available IRS Form 990 tax forms. The expenditures provide unique insight into trade association priorities and the willingness of public relations firms to represent socially harmful industries.

Visit the Trade Association Spending on Public Relations project page.

Public Relations Climate Survey

PR Industry Climate Survey

In 2014 and 2018, researchers from the Climate Investigations Center surveyed some of the top PR firms in the country, asking them about their policies surrounding climate change.

Visit the Climate Survey project page.

DDC Advocacy

Front Group Websites Hosted by DDC Advocacy

The Climate Investigations Center has uncovered a trove of front group and advocacy websites all possibly hosted by the public relations firm, Democracy Data & Communications (DDC). This project shows the wide-ranging reach and influence employed by hundred-million-dollar PR firms like DDC, exerting industry’s influence on state and federal level policy.

Visit the DDC Front Groups project page.

Recent public relations articles from Climate Investigations Center:

Hurricanes and Climate Change: A case of “Fake TV News” & ExxonMobil disinformation?

I am often asked the difference between disinformation and misinformation. The following is a prime example of disinformation, made more stark by Hurricane Ida that just left devastation in New Orleans and surrounds. In June 2006, less than a year after Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and wrecked New Orleans, Tech Central Station, a project run

Global Climate Information Project 1997 TV Ads

Success! Just recovered some 23 year old TV ads via my old friend Eric Gravley of PlanetVox. Way back in the late 1990s, early 2000s, before YouTube, before digital media, DVRs, “on demand” and all the things we take for granted today, Gravely and team ran a production studio, made documentaries and taped important stuff

cic pr trade association report summarization photo

CIC’s Trade Associations PR Investigation in the Media

In early March 2019, the Climate Investigations Center (CIC) launched its Trade Associations and the Public Relations Industry report, which revealed the almost $1.4 billion energy and business trade associations spent over the past decade on advertising, communications, and advocacy via contracts with public relations (PR) companies. Since the publication of the report, CIC’s Kert

trade associations

Energy and Corporate Trade Associations Spend $1.4 Billion on PR Campaigns

How much money have the fossil fuel industry’s powerful trade association allies spent to convince the American public that its products are beneficial and necessary – and to stymie progress on climate change that could harm its financial interests? To find out, Climate Investigations Center researchers analyzed the public relations expenditures of these trade associations

Kert Davies

The Climate Change Countermovement: Brown University Report and Panel

Earlier this month, CIC’s Kert Davies was an invited speaker at a collaborative conference held at Brown University on the economic impacts of climate change and the opposition to policy advances. The day long event, America’s Climate Change Future: Housing Markets, Stranded Assets, and Entrenched Interests, gathered experts on a range of climate change topics

DCI Group Subpoenaed on Exxon Climate Denial Fraud Case

Now this is getting interesting… PRWatch just revealed that DCI Group was subpoenaed by the US Virgin Islands as part of the ExxonMobil fraud investigation. This Climate Investigations post contains some things we know about Exxon and DCI Group and its work on climate change. First, we know there was a contract.  DCI Group was

Strong Optics at Attorney General’s Climate Conclave but Weak on Details, Litigators

The announcement Tuesday that two more attorneys general are investigating whether ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel companies misled the public about the reality of global warming raised more questions than it answered – particularly as to whether this round of attorney general activism really has goals – or resources – like those of the state


Edelman Shuns Coal and Climate Denial – The year in review

Aug 2014 – The original CIC PR Industry Climate Change Survey Aug 4, 2014 Guardian story – World’s Top PR Companies Rule Out Working With Climate Deniers Aug 5, 2014 CIC blog – PR Industry Climate Change Survey  Aug 5, 2014 Vice – How the Largest PR Firm in the World Promotes Climate Change Denial  Aug 7, 2014 CIC

Big Oil Paid Edelman and FleishmanHillard Over $400 Million Since 2008

The Center for Public Integrity has just released a report compiling spending by industry trade associations on public relations over the past decade or so.  The report, titled Who needs lobbyists?  See what big business spends to win American minds, by Erin Quin and Chris Young, was published this morning.  They also have an article

Edelman fired by TransCanada After Leaked Energy East Plan

Edelman’s Statement is a little bit different from TransCanada’s… Edelman NewsWire press release Edelman and TransCanada agree to end collaboration on the Energy East Pipeline project TORONTO, Nov. 26, 2014 /CNW/ – Over the last week, attention has moved away from the merits of TransCanada’s Energy East Pipeline project.  As a result, and in the best