The article below was Published August 2011 in Environmental Leader Magazine.
Educating the public is important for any project, and even more so for industries people know little about. To garner support, the community has to understand what you do, what you propose and how you plan to carry it out. Renewable energy is more susceptible to suspicion than other industries because it is young, progressive and promotes change. Humans generally fear change because not knowing what to expect is frightening.
That is why any clean energy project should have an informative public relations campaign. If your audiences understand the nature of the proposed changes, they will be more likely to favor and approve them.
While a public relations campaign can take many forms, there are universal methods of promotion that are beneficial for all businesses in the alternative energy field. One of these methods is frequently neglected because people consider it old-fashioned. This method is radio advertising.
Many times people underestimate radio advertisements. They believe that pictures deliver messages more effectively than sounds. Although creating a successful radio ad is indeed more difficult, radio offers certain advantages that may be unattainable through other forms of advertising.
Simplicity Is Key
The biggest issue opponents have to radio advertising is the fact that it lacks a visual component like television and print. However, an effective radio spot can actually use this to its advantage. While television and print have the allure of visual appeal, sometimes the excess of images can detract from the overall message. If the viewer absorbs too much of the image, they can lose track of the initial message. Radio advertisements simply require the public to listen to the information without any unnecessary distractions and interruptions. Although you sacrifice images, the benefits of simplicity outweigh this loss.
Humor: Friend or Foe?
Many radio advertisements attempt to be funny. It seems that their creators try to compensate the lack of visuals with humor. I would advise the renewable energy industry to stay away from humor in their radio ads. The goal of an educational PR campaign is to deliver clean facts to the public.
If humor flops in an advertisement, people will likely remember that more than the facts, defeating the purpose of the message. The nature and purpose of clean energy is so significant to the future of our planet that there is no need to worry about being funny in your ads.
Keep It Natural
Do not overcrowd your radio ad. Dialogue is a good way to avoid an excess of information. Imagine a friendly chat between two neighbors about the economic and environmental benefits the proposed solar plant will bring into their community. A conversation like that will work much better in a radio ad than a long monologue relaying facts and data. Sound effects is another serious advantage of radio. A soft, peaceful sound of a working wind turbine can replace a whole paragraph of descriptions. Let the sound tell the story. A good clip can catch the listener’s attention in just a few seconds.
Inexpensive and Effective
Keeping the cost-per-impression down is an essential part of a public relations campaign. While newspaper advertisements are less expensive, because they are currently struggling in today’s world, they reach fewer people. Television reaches the greatest part of the public, but a thirty second television ad can be expensive depending when it airs. This makes a radio advertisement the most logical choice for the renewable energy industry. A thirty second clip can reach a large number of listeners at a relatively low price. This drives down the cost-per-impression, saving the company money, while hitting a large part of the public with the campaign’s central message.
Radio advertisement should be an important component of an informational PR campaign. Other methods of promotion are also necessary, but the proper combination of sounds and words in a radio ad may be one of your most powerful weapons in gaining public support for your clean energy project.
Radio advertising can help target specific demographic groups. It covers a rather large audience during the morning and evening commutes. It is generally less expensive than television and can be just as convincing as TV commercials. In today’s complex world, sometimes a simple and to-the-point message is exactly what your campaign needs. Radio advertising should be included in your campaign’s plan to ensure maximum public support for your project.