Renewable Energy companies need Public Relations (PR) for several reasons. The following are the top 10 things I believe every RE company should be aware of in 2010. Remember, the solar industry is still a nascent industry just at the beginning of its steep growth curve. But general awareness of solar and other renewables and their benefits is very low among the general public. The industry needs to educate and communicate with the American public so they better understand renewables and the bright future they can bring to our world.
10 Things Every Solar Company Should Know in 2010
Jen Lynch | Shorey Public Relations
1. Grab the Spotlight
The renewable energy industry is at the forefront of the global economy and under the spotlight on the stage of technology and innovation. That spotlight is still up for grabs, and PR can help put the focus on you, your company and your cause. A PR plan is the foundation to achieving awareness and exposure, and outlines a strategic and tactical process to reach desired audiences.
2. Tell your Story
Every company has a story, from how it got started, to how it survived. PR can tell your story in a fresh way that makes the news, giving your company a stronger voice in the industry and presence on local, national and international levels.
Why bother telling a story if the right people don’t hear it? Or worse, what if they DO hear it but don’t understand it?
3. Educate and Inform
Right now there is an opportunity to educate the entire country. People will not support something they do not understand, and education is the key, especially in the nascent RE indsutry. An integrated marketing and PR campaign can help close this gap in communication by reaching out to targeted audiences and eliminating fear that so often hinders action and acceptance of change. An educated public is the only public that will make the right decisions towards a sustainable future.
4. Navigate the Political Agenda/Secure Funding
Funding is one of the biggest barriers to start-ups and small companies in the renewable energy industry. We give our clients strategic counsel and writing that delivers a strong message to catch the attention of the decision makers in Washington. Politicians need to understand energy in order to effectively communicate to constituents and colleagues. Plus, if they know more about how funds are spent they will be less reluctant to hold back financial support and also be more determined to find additional resources.
5. Be Media Savvy
Not all innovators and tech-heads are media friendly, but there are many opportunities for improvement in this area. Media training is an indispensable tool with the potential to completely alter the public perception of a company and influence the way a message is delivered. When interacting with the media, the reputation of your company is at stake. You need the best possible representation to share with the world.
6. Deliver your Message
In every organization there must be a clear core message that employees can understand and communicate to outside audiences like suppliers, buyers, investors, media etc. After this message is created and fine-tuned, it must be effectively communicated to the right people at the right time.
7. Implement Cultural Change
In order for renewable energy to be effectively integrated into our culture, we must make the American public adopt and embrace new technologies. Earned media coverage, speaking opportunities and event creation can elevate the importance and desire for renewable energy - especially those that have already demonstrated successful implementation and a positive return.
8. Win the Energy Game
Although wind and solar seem to be the most dominant and promising players in the industry, there other energy options like hydroelectric, tidal, biomass, geothermal, hydrogen, among others. By garnering earned media coverage you enhance credibility, grow your business and give yourself an advantage over the other players. Energy is a tough game, and while we all collaborate to become less dependent on fossil fuels, we still need to work on building each individual sector in a diversified approach, to make alternative energy as a whole the best (and most obvious) solution.
9. Build a Brand
Since the industry is still changing and expanding, there really hasn’t been specific branding of a company or product in relation to renewable energy yet. Sure First Solar seems to be the clear low cost leader in the solar market, but does the public outside of the energy industry know this? I doubt it. People may be interested in buying solar panels one day, but are not yet able to or may not even know where to go to buy the panels. The goal is to heighten awareness of every citizen, making them view your company as the energy leader. In 2010 there is an opportunity to become the go-to resource for your specific energy industry.
10. Expand your Network
This goes back to the standard principle, ‘It’s all about who you know’. Having the right people (powerful and connected) on your side pushing for you, plays a large role in the success of your business. PR can facilitate these connections by securing speaking roles at conferences, positioning your company message at networking events (in many ways, especially catering to VC’s), assisting in online networking via social media and more.
These are just a few ways that I believe marketing and PR can help businesses in the renewable energy industry. I may be in the communications field, but solar and renewable energy is something I've always been passionate about. We have an opportunity to change the world, and the leaders of this change are right here in this industry.
Jen Lynch is currently an Account Executive at Shorey Public Relations in Saratoga Springs, NY. At Shorey PR she provides strategic writing, graphic design and media relations to clients and conducts outreach for new business opportunities in the renewable energy industry. She is a contributing blogger on Renewable Energy World, with a specialized focus in solar energy and green living. While attending the S.I. Newhouse School for Public Communications at Syracuse University, Jen earned a B.S. in Public Relations and a minor in Finance. She can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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