Last week, we interviewed Belen Gallego, Founder & Director at CSP Today and PV Insider, in conjunction with the CSP Today 6th Concentrated Solar Thermal Power USA Conference she’s putting on in Las Vegas this Wednesday and Thursday (June 27-28). In addition, yesterday we published our interview with Frank “Tex” Wilkins, Executive Director of the Concentrating Solar Power Alliance (CSPA). This Wednesday, Wilkins will be speaking on a panel moderated by Fred Morse of Abengoa Solar, and including Tigercomm Vice President Mark Sokolove.
Today, we present a brief preview of Sokolove’s presentation, “Communicating the Value of CSP to the Public: Generating Attention to Reach Critical Audience Sectors.” As an expert in public relations and marketing for clean energy industries, Sokolove has a number of thoughts about the challenges faced by clean energy in general, and CSP in particular, as well as advice for how to win over skeptics and build support at the grassroots and “grasstops” (local elected officials and business leaders, editorial boards, education institutions, etc.) levels. A few key points from Sokolove’s presentation include:
- Despite numerous positive aspects to clean energy sources like CSP – jobs, public support, etc. – clean energy projects often meet with opposition, to varying degrees, for a variety of reasons.
- To deal with skepticism and opposition to clean energy projects, it’s important to have a campaign playbook, employ consistent, succinct messaging, reach out effectively to both grassroots and “grasstops” and use multiple communications channels effectively.
- A few effective methods to help build grassroots support include letters to the editor, email campaigns, town halls and workshops and door-to-door canvassing.
- Nowadays, there are numerous types of media – earned, paid, social, etc. – and it’s important to use all of them effectively to “surround sound” your target audience.
- In our highly dynamic, 24/7 news environment, it’s particularly important to stay on top of fast-moving social media, both to promote positive stories about your industry, company and projects, as well as to prevent any negative “memes” from establishing themselves and propagating.
The bottom line is that it’s not enough to have a great technology or product to offer, although certainly that’s important. In addition, it’s crucial to develop a serious, focused plan aimed at building support for your industry, company and projects; to communicate effectively and proactively; not to take your friends (e.g., the environmental community) for granted and to push back quickly and effectively against any and all threats to your interests.