By Jarret Adams
Amid the highly technical sessions that usually comprise the American Nuclear Society’s Winter Meeting, two panel discussions took aim at the range of communications challenges facing nuclear energy in the United States. While these issues may appear less complex than the technical challenges of nuclear energy, communications issues have been no less vexing for companies that build, own and operate nuclear power plants.
One panel, led by Mimi Limbach of Potomac Communications Group (PCG) and Craig Piercy, the ANS Washington representative and Senior Vice President of Bose Public Affairs, focused on the question of how ANS members can carry the nuclear energy message to the new Congress
In this standing-room only session, nearly 200 ANS members offered numerous suggestions to help inform government officials and the general public about the benefits of nuclear energy. Suggestions included better education of school-age children about energy issues, training nuclear engineering students in communications, and building coalitions with environmental groups.
Some strongly advocated the launch of a national advertising campaign. Alas, it was decided the nuclear industry does not have the money that the oil and gas companies have.
“Our audience was motivated and we had a really lively discussion. We ended up with a ‘to do’ list for ANS,” said Limbach.
Leading nuclear blogger Dan Yurman of the Idaho Samizdat steered the other communications panel on social media and its impact on the nuclear energy industry’s credibility. Other panelists included Tom Fields of the Idaho National Laboratory, Laura Hermann of PCG and yours truly.
The panelists noted how important it is that companies and organizations involved in nuclear energy employ social media. These tools allow the groups to engage stakeholders, answer the questions and respond to real concerns. “Today, internet users expect to be able to give feedback,” said Yurman. And many social media tools, such as Facebook, Youtube and blogs allow visitors to do just that.
All of this provides a perfect segue to mention again the AREVA North America blog—check it out.