As Kate Trgovac has noted, her old employers at Petro-Canada have launched Pump Talk, an effort to spin Canadians on soaring gasoline prices that makes heavy use of YouTube.

(It also makes heavy use of some pretty deft rhetorical footwork. On their FAQ page, PetroCan answers the question “Aren’t oil companies making record profits with the higher pump prices we have seen?” this way:

Oil companies such as Petro-Canada with upstream operations that explore for and produce crude oil and natural gas have seen increased profits from the higher world prices for these commodities.

However, retail gasoline margins on a per litre basis have decreased over the past few years as larger, higher throughput sites with significant ancillary revenue sources (convenience stores, car washes, fast food, etc.) enter the market. In 2005, Petro-Canada’s marketing and refining profit was about 2% of the average price of gasoline in Canada, just over two cents per litre.

Soooo… that would be a “Yes. Yes, we are, and thanks for asking.”)

But your friendly red-and-white pump jockeys aren’t just YouTube-savvy. They’re also trying to stir up a little blogging buzz. James Bow reports that he received a note from a senior communications advisor at Petro-Canada who referred to some of Bow’s earlier posts about gasoline pricing, and invited him to check Pump Talk out.

It might have been a more convincing appeal had more of it not been word for word the same message that other bloggers have received. A risk of the new era: your pitches get published. (Not that I’ve ever used boilerplate copy in a pitch e-mail… cough, cough.) On the other hand, they’re starting to get a few links here and there from outside the PR/marketing/communications hothouse.

Will it go “viral” and become the Next Big Thing? Probably not; I doubt the overwhelmingly young YouTube audience will go for the folksy “It’s like when a little sign goes up in the coffee store” explanation for rising oil prices, let alone forward it to all their friends. It’s more the kind of thing that your Uncle Pete forwards you after you and he argue over oil profits at next year’s Thanksgiving dinner.

Which may well be the goal.

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