The article below was Published October 2011 in Renewable Energy Magazine.
"The renewable energy industry needs to engage in a massive public relations campaign that will remove the myths and provide the public with the clean facts about green energy," says Al Maiorino in his latest blog article, which provides practical advice on public relations for renewables companies.
We live in a world of technological progress and innovations. Modernization and new creations greatly affect our lives. With constant access to the internet, social and mass media, digital press and global television, the public is expected to be well-informed and educated.
Unfortunately, the information modern technology provides is not always objective. Frequently, such information is based on someone's opinion, interpretation or even rumors. Some subjects, and even entire fields, are more susceptible to such misinformation. These misconceptions and incorrect assumptions affect the renewable energy industry especially.
The clean energy industry is rather young. The public has had only a few decades to become aware and educated on the topic, compared to traditional fossil fuel energy. Renewable energy is still mostly unknown to the general public. Most people understand and support the initiatives of alternative energy in theory, as they acknowledge the necessity for change to protect the environment. Unfortunately, when it comes to building a biomass plant or a wind farm, local communities become cautious and even fearful of what effects it may have on their neighborhoods and lifestyles. This happens due to a gap in knowledge between what the renewable energy industry proposes and how it carries it out in practice.
Educating the public is an essential role that helps bridge this gap. The renewable energy industry needs to engage in a massive public relations campaign that will remove the myths and provide the public with the clean facts about green energy. Along with a strong informational content, such a campaign should rely on innovative methods to carry the message. The methods used to can be as important as the content itself.
Modern technology that makes information available can be very useful if applied correctly in a PR campaign. Of course, traditional promotion methods such as radio, television and print advertising should be employed as well. Public service announcements on television will ensure the message reaches a broad spectrum of audience. Radio ads will provide additional promotion on more local levels with targeted demographics. Print advertising in local newspapers and magazines will produce further visual coverage.
Traditional methods of promotion are crucial in any PR campaign. The renewable energy industry, however, should also consider alternative forms of advertising. The innovative nature of clean energy requires a progressive approach to promotion. PR professionals understand how important the content of an advertisement is to the success of the whole campaign. For a promotional campaign to better serve the renewable energy industry, it must balance educational information with interesting and creative forms of advertising to capture attention effectively.
On a daily basis, people see and hear hundreds of ads. This makes creating a memorable advertisement difficult. In alternative advertising, finding an unexpected outlet and format is crucial. The audience will remember the advertisement better if they are taken by surprise.
Another critical thing to remember in a contemporary PR campaign is that this world feeds on interactive communication. It is not enough to simply relay the information to the public. The recipients must have a chance to respond and share their feedback.
Social media is one of the best ways to begin an educational PR campaign. Various social websites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others provide an excellent two-way channel of communication. Not only can such media outlets educate audiences, they also give the public a chance to respond, comment and ask questions. The ability to receive instant feedback is a serious advantage of a social media campaign. Communicating the goals of renewable energy in basic terms will help you bridge that gap with the public.
An enormous advantage that comes with social media is the incorporation of videos, sound clips, and animations to communicate the message to the public. While traditional media remains an important part of people’s daily information gathering, this type of interactive media has become equally as powerful in information dissemination. Additionally, social and interactive media allow greater room for creativity. Eye-catching, original material resides more effectively in people’s brains. Effective public relations campaigns do exactly that: produce a message that sticks with the general public. While a campaign should not ignore traditional media, the social media revolution has altered the way companies release information.
Deciding on a perfect PR campaign, especially for a progressive industry that requires extra innovation is extremely challenging. The presence of traditional advertising in your campaign is both necessary and beneficial. However, to stand out, earn attention, and receive desirable results creative and innovative campaigns are most yielding. A young forward-looking concept like clean energy deserves a fresh and inventive promotion. Alternative energy is a perfect candidate for alternative advertising.