To say the oil industry is massive is an understatement. In fact, the oil and gas industry is so large it has its own unique ecosystem of businesses.

From small independent operators (like Payson Petroleum) to field service companies (like Baker Hughes) to Super Major oil companies (like ExxonMobil and Shell), the oil industry comes in all shapes and sizes.

These companies use various marketing tactics to get the word out about their brands. But when you look at them on the whole, company objective tend to fall into one of three categories.

First, companies often seek to enhance investor outreach to build relationships and fund their drilling programs. Second, they aim to boost recruiting efforts and shore up brand perception within the industry. Third, companies strive to improve public relations and community outreach to strengthen brand perception outside the industry.

But even with the vast amount of dollars the oil industry spends to achieve these goals, we remain perhaps the most maligned industry on earth. There are countless reasons for this. One the biggest factors is our industry’s reluctance to embrace new media. Many in the industry refuse to “meet people where they are at” and demonstrate the true (and nearly miraculous) value oil and gas brings to the world.

However, while there are still only a handful of companies in the oil industry that really push the marketing boundaries, there are some fantastic best practices to learn from those that are doing it right.

So here are 4 ways the oil industry can leverage new media and other mediums to shape public perception while creating fans and brand advocates in the process.

#1 Focus on Community

Cabot Oil & Gas is an independent operator focused on petroleum and natural gas exploration and production. The company features local events that put the focus exactly where it needs to be – on the community.

While many oil and gas companies try to push their corporate message during community events, Cabot takes the high road. Instead of turning these events into daylong sales pitches, they celebrate the people and towns where they are privileged to serve. Sure, Cabot’s brand is prominently featured on trucks, grills, etc. But the brand takes a backseat to the people, and the people get the message.

The company also sponsors community events, such as a recent sporting clay shooting tournament that raised $50,000 for St. Joseph’s Center. Again, while their company name was visible at the event, the real focus was promoting fun to benefit the community.

Alec Baldwin’s character in Glengarry Glen Ross famously said, “A – Always. B – Be. C – Closing! Always Be Closing!” But you don’t always have to include a “call to action” in every event to communicate your marketing message.

Key Takeaway: To get someone to care about your brand, you have to demonstrate how much you care about them first. (Click to Tweet This!)

#2 Ever Heard of Gamification?

One of the biggest problems facing oil and gas today is the fact that nearly the entire industry is retiring in the next 10 years. Well, that might be a slight overstatement. However, the age gap is a serious concern. Every company needs young talent that can step up and take the reigns when the time comes.

Maersk Oil sees your recruiting challenge, and raises you a video game.

Maersk wanted to attract more young people and students while also communicating how the company deploys technology, makes difficult decisions and manages uncertainty. So Maersk launched a computer game called Quest for Oil. It is designed to simulate the high-stakes challenges of oil discovery. It also demonstrates the business complexities of producing, refining and transporting oil in harsh environments.

Quest for Oil is the first game of its kind. It gives players the chance to understand what it’s like to explore for oil from a rig with 53,000 tons of steel drilling the ocean floor thousands of feet beneath. The game allows Maersk to expand potential job candidate’s horizons and show them the unknown universe of oil exploration. By inviting players to conquer the great abyss and supply the world’s energy needs, Maersk is tapping into something every young person likes – a good challenge.

Key Takeaway: Don’t play small while marketing your oil company. Swing for the fences – even if that means making a video game! (Click to Tweet This!)

#3 Use New Media to Share Your Story

As we already discussed, the oil industry is constantly fighting an uphill public relations battle. Thanks to a handful of celebrities, many people see us as a faceless “evil empire.”

Thankfully, there are companies like Chevron actively working against that misconception. The company does a fantastic job of creating unique, educational content that truly puts a human face on the industry.

This video is from Chevron’s “Meet Our Employees” playlist on YouTube. It introduces viewers to company employees who describe what it takes to do their jobs. In a brilliant play, the company used this video to focus on their wetlands restoration project, which provides a safe-haven for wildlife.

This is extraordinary because it shows their sense of community while introducing viewers to employees they can relate to. As a result, that “evil empire” myth is pretty hard to buy after just 1 minute and 39 seconds.

Key Takeaway: We are overrun with negative messages about the oil industry. It’s up to you to set the record straight. (Click to Tweet This!)

#4 Create Amazing Content that Adds Value to the Oil Industry

Slowly, but surely the oil industry is waking up and realizing the power of content marketing. If you’ve never heard the term, content marketing is what it sounds like – marketing with content.

That content could be a podcast, a YouTube video, an infographic or even a blog like the one you’re reading right now. Content is an amazing tool because it allows your brand to develop a human voice in a world that believes you are anything but that.

But here is where they get you with content. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

You’re not going to start a blog, a Facebook page, a YouTube channel, etc. and start raking in your gold coins overnight. It takes time to develop your audience and build trust long before you can drive traffic and revenue. However, the brand equity that comes from selflessly adding value to your reader’s lives – instead of more annoying/hyped-up marketing noise – pays huge dividends in the end.

The same goes for all of these ideas. Whether you’re hosting a community picnic or just getting started with new media, winning over the public to see the great things the oil industry does for their lives is a thankless task that takes time. However, the companies that stick it out through thick and thin are always the ones that win.

Key Takeaway: If you want success with content in the oil industry – or any industry – you’ve got to be in it for the long haul. (Click to Tweet This!)

Your Turn

Those are 4 ways I could think of – what about you? What did I leave out? What companies do you believe deserve a shout-out for how well they represent the oil industry in their communities and online? Please, leave a comment below.

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Tatsuya Nakagawa

Tatsuya Nakagawa is the Vice President of Marketing and co-founder of Castagra Products, a storage tank and wastewater coatings manufacturing company that is highly acclaimed for its cold weather tank coating applications and durable frac tank coatings. Castagra is used by the world’s top oil and gas field services companies. You can connect with Tats on LinkedIn here.

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