The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Ad agency hired by city council

Gasline media blitz to tell Valdez story to Alaskans


The Valdez City Council approved signing a $15,000 contract with the Walsh Sheppard, an Anchorage-based advertising agency, in hopes of better spreading its support of an in-state natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to Valdez.

Valdez, which helped form the Alaska Gasline Port Authority, has long struggled to garner political support for a natural gasline to Port Valdez from legislators in Juneau or Washington DC.

It is hoped the agency – and a planned media blitz - will help sway popular opinion, ie voters, from other parts of Alaska, especially its large population centers in Anchorage, the MatSu Valley and Kenai Pennisula, to pressure legislators and the governor to support a state-owned natural gas line to Port Valdez for in-state use and export to the lucrative Asian market.

City officials and the Port Authority, made up of officials from both Valdez and the Fairbanks area, are in a race against time and big-money influence in the Alaska legislature, where a competing natural gas project from the North Slope to an unstated tidewater area in Alaska is pending in the form of House Bill 4.

Bill Walker, attorney for the city of Valdez and legal council for the Port Authority, told the council in a special work session two weeks ago that HB 4 is a reconstituted version of the 2012 HB9.

“It’s a significant piece of legislation,” he said, and warned city officials that Valdez could be left in the dust during the process if bold and significant measures are not immediately taken.

“Council needs to meet this group (from Walsh Sheppard) immediately,” John Hozey, the city’s manager, told council during its regular meeting Monday night after the contract was approved.

Photo courtesy of AGPA

Bill Walker addressing attendees of the 2011 North America Gas Summit.

The initial $15,000 contract is expected to get the ball rolling on the campaign, and does not include potential TV commercials and many other big-ticket marketing strategies the campaign will likely need.

“This $15,000 is not the total amount,” Valdez mayor Dave Cobb said during the meeting. “I’m sure it (final cost) will be far north of that number.”

City officials are set the meet in Valdez with executives from Walsh Sheppard Wednesday evening to discuss strategy and messaging.

In its proposal, Walsh Sheppard said it will break through “gas line fatigue” to catch the attention of Alaskans, which have been bombarded in recent years with conflicting messaging from Juneau and energy companies.

TV, radio, print ads and social media are all on the table to complete the campaign, which is on a fast track for council approval.


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