Communication exercise no. 4: RMGC and “Let’s save Rosia Montana”
From a communicational point of view, in the last few weeks, five important events have taken place within the “battle” between RMGC and “Let’s save Rosia Montana” (SRM):
1. The office of the Minister of the Environment has been temporarily occupied by Greenpeace;
2. A TV show by Mr Tatulici and Realitatea TV in Rosia Montana;
3. The “Judeca Tu” (You be the judge) show on TVR;
4. A collaboration between the Romanian Football Federation and RMGC was staged;
5. The anti-RMGC message (from the violent events at the Romania-Uruguay match held in Bucharest) was suppressed.
What we can observe: RMGC does not deviate from their directions and it promotes the same messages with specific figures, focused on three pillars: job creation, state benefits and operational safety through the modern technologies used. I will put in a separate chapter the commercials that rely on emotions and the commercials that use real people from Rosia Montaaă. This campaign has been running for a long time and it no longer has the benefit of novelty. On the contrary, SRM’s counterattacks managed to demonetize it. At this moment, I consider the whole campaign superfluous and useless, the message no longer produces the expected effects of desensitizing the public opinion about the problems of the inhabitants of the area. Moreover, the characters are ridiculed, and some are even accused of acting exactly against the meaning of the message in the commercials (see the case of the one who built his lodge – even if the main message of the campaign is that no business is possible in Rosia Montana outside of mining).
Coming back to the five communication events, the following we can draw the following conclusions:
1. On its own ground, RMGC dominates the discussion and it eliminates any other voice, whether it is that of protesters or people from the academic and science field – see the show on Realitatea TV;
2. During the TVR debate, an attempt was made, once again, to disseminate the three main messages: job creation, state benefits, the safety of exploitation through the modern technologies used;
3. By bringing the State representatives to the TVR debate, we found out that the State is very poorly prepared and informed in the way they choose to communicate with the public and the SRM representatives, emphasizing the feeling of “belonging” to the direction desired by RMGC;
4. The State’s Representatives had outbursts of arrogance and self-sufficiency in their dialogue, and even threatened to stop the debate (this only comes to support the conclusion above);
5. The televised interventions of the State Representatives were either shy, uninformed, or obedient, or deliberately (accentuated) neutral and in no case pro-SRM;
6. The specialized assertions of the state representatives regarding the environment and the patrimony left the strong feeling of poor training and unprofessionalism;
7. The pressure exerted by RMGC through its messages covering all official media (TV and print) and the lack of access of SRM protesters as an alternative opinion in these media resulted in a wide variety of anti-RMGC messages and actions using alternative forms of media: social networks, public protests, blogs, YouTube, etc.
8. Given that the print media is in a sharp decline and the public is increasingly challenging official TV channels by selecting alternative forms of information, disregarding the principle of reaction, in this case, is a serious loophole in RMGC’s communication strategy.
9. SRM currently uses a tactic of blaming and discrediting the people associated with the mining project, not missing any opportunity: the case of FRF and Mircea Sandu, local people that were showed in TV spots, communicators, state officials (President, Prime Minister, Minister, Secretary of State), lobbyists, companies.
10. There is a rally of strong voices from the media and politics to the anti-RMGC cause, see the cases of Mr Cristian Tudor Popescu, Monica Macovei, Peter Eckstein-Kovacs, the Romanian Academy and so on.
11. The tacit contest of the state and traditional media channels to support the RMGC project is increasingly invoked and accused, see in this regard the broadcast figures of anti and pro RMGC messages provided by Active Watch and the selective broadcast of events from the match Romania- Uruguay.
From a communication point of view, there are some aspects related to the lack of transparency that contributes to the increase and maintenance of the anti-RMGC voice:
1. Secrecy of the contract with the state;
2. Classification of the Roșia Montană area as a mono-industrial area;
3. Lack of pro-SRM messages and reports in the media, selective presentation of news related to the mining project and related events;
4. Lack of a real public debate with the substantial and professional involvement of the state
5. The contradictory figures – therefore subject to the effect of disbelief – presented by RMGC related to jobs, the real benefits of the state and the long-term impact on the environment.
A brief conclusion can be drawn:
1. RMGC maintains – I would say wrongly – its communication strategy focused on three main messages, with arid figures: job creation, state benefits, safe operation through modern technologies used, but it is beginning to show that they are getting tired. There are also more and more cracks in their plan by falling into derision, discrediting the associates, contesting the figures and dismantling them one by one.
2. SRM reacts with a wide variety of messages and actions using non-traditional media, emphasizing the “inhuman side” of the mining project and invoking the “conspiracy” of the state and traditional media.