Winning Support for the CleanTech Players10 years, 6 months ago
Claudia Wittwer considers‘Green PR’ to be a major opportunity for PR professionals andintroduces different measures within and beyond classic PR that will provide value added for CleanTech companies.
Debates about Green PR have become a bit tiring over the past 2-3 years; at the same time, companies have been turning themselves inside out to demonstrate their involvement in environmental protection. NGOs have created innovative PR campaigns to reach out for active support. Numerous media reports have brought ‘green’ issues into the mainstream of public consciousness.
But where are we standing now? Where is the news? Where do we go from here? And where is the role of PR within all this?
Definitely there is still a multitude of issues and relevant aspects that the media have hardly touched. When ‘Green PR’ became a major trend, many companies rushed to uncover anything that might make them look ‘cleaner’.
‘Greenwashing’ has become notorious and has given Green PR a negative touch, but there is so much more PR can do than spreading the news on some real or fake involvement in environmental activities. PR is still in the process of finding its role in this business field and has not made full use of the potential of Green Communication.
Benefits of Green PR
The question is: What can we do to make senders as well as recipients of messages profit from our Green PR activities? Working with CleanTech clients and getting involved in related networks, the variety of business and technical solutions related to energy efficiency and renewable energies that are being developed simply seems overwhelming. A number of these solutions might change our life tremendously – but how much of this is actually common knowledge among the general public?
PR professionals could – and should! - act as a ‘translator’ between technology companies and society, thereby creatung an understanding for new trends and technologies, the chances and risks of their implementation. In the end, e-mobility, Smart Grid, and the rise of renewable energies concern all of us, once implemented.
By presenting the drivers of the ‘4th revolution’ and their business strategies and activities, PR can contribute in many ways: among others, it can change attitudes, influence consumer behaviour and win support for the players in the CleanTech market. This support might result in new business leads, new employees and funding.
And more: far from being a one-way-street, PR can also provide market insight to the responsible corporate executives and support them in getting an understanding of how the media, relevant stakeholders and the general public view their business activities and the way they present themselves.
Value added – beyond classic PR
With CleanTech business booming, many companies are in the process of developing their marketing strategies and activities to increase brand awareness, improve their reputation and present themselves as an innovative employer. Therefore, now it’s the right time to fully roll out PR programs that can really contribute to these companies’ success and their business development. The following hints are as much relevant for PR agency consultants as for corporate communication executives:
1. Spread the news – multichannel communication
Mainstream print media still play an important role, especially for companies entering new markets. For example, Chinese solar companies have put a lot of effort into positioning themselves as innovative players in their industries and responsible employers, who comply with international environmental and social standards. Top media in different European markets have played a dominant role in strengthening these companies’ image. Still, online media and blogs will eventually provide a much bigger audience for your news.
2. Researching the market and getting to know the client’s clients
Join online groups and forums on green business and get actively involved, and encourage your client to do so. After all, PR is not only about spreading news, but a lot about listening and learning. At the same time, this gives you the opportunity to engage in conversations directly with industry representatives and (potential) customers.
3. Blogger Relations
A major part of your homework will be to read the most important green blogs and get a feeling for the topics the bloggers are interested in. Read comments, and post some yourself wherever suitable. When providing information to the blogger always keep in mind that you will have to serve his interest, not yours.
4. Thought Leadership
Establish your client as a thought leader in his industry. This can be achieved by placing statements in the main media, creating case studies and white papers and offering them for download and a lot more. If you are a corporate PR executive, become an active member of the green online community. Create a value added for your audience by writing about things in which you have expertise. Create your own online magazine – assuming you have the capacities for this project.
5. Get connected – offline
Get involved in industry networks and get connected with regional, national and international business organizations and initiatives that aim at developing business relations for green business.
6. Together you are strong – cooperations and partnerships
Cooperate with innovative solution providers and marketing specialists who have created innovative research and information tools, marketing and communication channels and other tools and programs that support your/your clients’ marketing goals.
GlobalCom PR-Network (http://www.gcpr.de/indax_en.html) and the CleanEnergy Project (www.cleanenergy-project.de)
The CleanEnergy Project is an international initiative focused on renewable energies, cleantech and sustainability powered by the Munich-based PR agency GlobalCom PR-Network. It’s an excellent example of how an active involvement in communities can create excellent sources of information and market knowledge, attract new clients and boost an agency’s business. The CleanEnergy project includes:
1. An online magazine where new industry reports, reviews, comments etc. are published daily (http://www.cleanenergy-project.de/).
2. A fast growing social community based on the social network XING (www.xing.com) that unites more than 25,000 industry specialists from renewable and cleantech business nationwide. Besides virtual business relations and a very dynamic forum, the CleanEnergy project team organizes networking events in major German cities and specialized business events with partners and clients.
3. Partnerships with major German publishing houses, e.g. Vogel Business Media (http://www.vogel.de/) and energy 2.0 (http://www.energy20.net/pi/index.php?StoryID=360). This provides an additional array of communication channels and access to important industry expertise on trends, new products and corporate news.
4. Cooperation with "business aggregator Europe" (http://www.business-aggregator.de/english.html); the company provides consulting services and support related to sales and marketing (e.g. market positioning, sales structures, pricing...)
5. CleanEnergy Exhibition (http://www.cleanenergy-exhibition.de/), a virtual exhibition exclusively focused on renewable energies, cleantech and sustainability, which provides a cost-effective exhibition presence all year round. The CleanEnergy Exhibition is powered by the CleanEnergy Project and Marketing Consultant Peter Hackmann. More information: http://www.cleanenergy-exhibition.de/.
Claudia Wittwer is Senior PR Consultant at the Munich-based PR agency GlobalCom PR-Network and Senior Manager International Business Development for the international PR network of the same name (www.gcpr.net) which also has a blog. She has worked as a PR consultant and journalist for many years and mainly works for companies from the technology sector. Claudia has studied Chinese studies, Economics, Slavic Studies and Journalism in Bonn, Berlin, Shanghai and Stuttgart and has already published a number of articles, especially about PR and the media industry in the P.R. of China. Claudia speaks five foreign languages, among them Russian and Chinese.mail the author
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