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Shifting Solar Industry Coverage Away from the Negative Solyndra Story to a Positive Jobs Story


When The Solar Foundation (TSF) released its second annual National Solar Jobs Census, it faced a number of challenges in getting media attention. TSF released the report in a crowded news environment, including the intense coverage of the high-profile Solyndra bankruptcy that had called clean-energy growth into question.

But not only did the solar industry need a positive new lift that the Census’s encouraging findings could provide, TSF needed reporters to understand its Census’s rigorous methodology so it could be seen as the emerging standard in tracking clean-energy jobs.


Tigercomm responded to the challenge by:

  • Working closely with TSF to identify the key findings in the Census to drive a simple, powerful message that solar jobs had doubled while fossil fuel jobs had shrunk amidst a weak economy

  • Developing a comprehensive, two-phase earned media strategy that centered on showing that, unlike Solyndra, the solar industry was growing American jobs. In the first phase, Tigercomm launched the preliminary topline figures of the solar jobs census at the height of the Solyndra aftermath in mid-September. In the second phase, TSF released the full census at the start of the Solar Power International 2011 (SPI) trade show and conference for maximum news attention

  • Providing a half-day media training to Andrea Luecke, The Solar Foundation's Executive Director

  • Pitching the census to a wide range of reporters who cover energy, employment and the national economy before, during and after the SPI conference. This included a series of advanced, embargoed briefings

  • Using an early taping of Andrea’s message at the Communicating Energy Lecture Series, sponsored by Tigercomm’s Scaling Green blog, to provide an online video release of the results to supplement initial coverage

  • Working with a broad set of state organizations to secure localized media coverage for state-specific job numbers. Local jobs census figures were included in stories in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oregon and Texas

  • Hosting a Scaling Green video booth at the TSF Census release party, at which industry influentials were interviewed about the Census results. The taped segments were distributed to interviewees for distribution on their online platforms, further spreading the word about the Census

  • Taking advantage of opportunities to insert the solar jobs census into other stories focused on the state of renewables in general, and solar in particular

  • Getting the word out on blogs like Huffington Post and the National Journal Energy & Environment Experts blog and creating an infographic which was picked up by CleanTechnica and other influential cleantech blogs

  • Securing broadcast interviews with E&E News - On Point, Renewable Energy World and WBUR (Boston)


TSF’s 2011 solar jobs census received widespread attention from major media outlets such as:

  •  National Public Radio
  • CNN
  • Fast Company
  • The New York Times 
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • US News & World Report
  • Huffington Post
  • Los Angeles Times
  • The Miami Herald, among others.
In total, the launch of the Census has generated 334 on-message news hits and re-postings, as well as tens of millions of impressions to date.