Communications Programs in the Renewable Energy Sector: Finding Balance

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  • April 22, 2017
  • Starr Million Baker

This blog post is the third in a series on building communications strategies in the renewable energy sector. As luck and timing would have it, the topic of this post was to be focused on national and global campaigns. There is no more appropriate day to talk about these issues than today, Earth Day 2017.

In 2008, when INK first became active in the renewable energy space, I have to say we were fairly idealistic. We’re going to play a part in saving the world! Clean, renewable energy for everyone! After all, who wouldn’t want that? We felt it was just a matter of spreading the word – the word of what good renewable energy can do for the climate. We quickly came back down to Earth. Renewable energy – just like any other form of energy – is a business first. Ten years ago, it was almost a business only. Companies were hesitant to talk about the benefits of renewable energy to the world, instead focusing on the economic benefits of job creation in their storytelling. And no wonder. The renewable energy business was a tough place to be 10 years ago, when financing was not stable (how do you finance a wind farm when the tax credit you’re depending on could be ripped out from under you?), prices were higher than fossil fuel-derived energy, and climate change was an issue for scientists and academics, not investors and politicians.

Some things change, while others remain the same.

When we came back down to Earth, we quickly realized that national communications campaigns on behalf of our renewable energy clients had to include a high level of policy and economic understanding. How does the business affect the community, state, and country in which it operates? We believe successful communications programs in renewable energy must also include a willingness to take a vocal position, be it as an educational resource to media, via owned content on one’s own website, or to lobby influencers in state and national legislations. Trade associations also play an active role in setting, influencing, and navigating legislative issues – so participating in AWEA, SEIA, or others should be a critical component in the overall communications program.

But where’s the love for Mother Earth?

While local and national initiatives are a key component to all communications programs in the renewable energy sector, still too often companies prioritize these efforts and ignore the bigger picture. A decade ago, this strategy was a necessary means for business survival. But today, the positive benefits of including renewable resources in our energy mix can and should not be ignored. Regardless of policy changes or who’s in office, INK believes it’s all our responsibilities to ensure we have an Earth to leave to our children. Part of that is business success, for sure, but one does not have to come at the cost of the other. In the decade ahead of us, those renewable energy businesses – and just businesses, period – that survive and thrive will be the ones that understand, and communicate, the balance between environmental and economic benefits.

For the last decade, INK has worked to mitigate communication challenges in the renewable energy sector and tell the truly compelling story. We are passionate in our belief that the world is a better place with renewable, clean energy in it, and we work with massive enterprises and brand new start-ups in wind, solar, biofuels, hydro, geothermal, and other technologies, to help ensure they continue to make a difference. Looking for a communications partner that gets the nuances and challenges of clean energy? Give us a shout. And get out there – it’s Earth Day! I’m off to plant some flowers for the bees.