Economy vs. Environment: PR War Heats Up in Eastern NC
“Issues management” has been around for along time. From Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” in 1906 to tobacco and “Silent Spring” in the 1960s to obesity today – the “issues” show no signs of going away. The latest pits the city of Wilson in Nash County vs. Sanderson Farms, a publicly held chicken processor based in Mississippi. Sanderson wants to open a new chicken processing plant and bring 1,100 jobs to the area while local landowners oppose construction and development of the plant on environmental and quality of living concerns.
According to the N&O (Chicken plant foes hire PR firm), the two sides are suiting up for battle with the city/county/landowners team hiring Campaign Connections principal Brad Crone to lead the charge. The article say Crone will handle polling and messaging. So far he’s earning his keep with the N&O publishing some of the vital public opinion statistics his firm put together with Public Policy Polling in Raleigh that generally show negative support for the chicken coop. No doubt those stats will be republished elsewhere and used to frame the narrative of the issue.
Not to pick on the N&O too much, but the article lacked “margin of error” information which attests to statistical validity. Instead it opted for the magic phrase “of those polled” – not quite the same thing. It also lacked details about the sample – only saying “815 voters in Nash and Wilson Counties” which is in the targeted area for the new chicken processing plant. “815” sounds big, but I’d like to know a little more about the respondents and how they were selected. Was it a random, purposive or stratified sample? It matters. My old J-school professor, Phil Meyer, might have an issue with the reporting.
Nonetheless, the issue is interesting – jobs vs. the environment – especially while the economy is sputtering. We’ll keep an eye on this one as it unfolds.