Communication, Communication, Communication

I’m an alternative energy company looking to make a name for myself now what am I supposed to do? COMMUNICATION IS KEY, especially for alternative energy companies. With so many misconceptions out there alternative energy companies need to focus on creating top notch communications, with their investors, reporters and lawmakers.

Communications and Growth Go Hand in Hand

Whether you have a sophisticated communications strategy or a small one-person operation, your communications and marketing strategy plays a key role in your growth strategy. More competition, lower power demand, the price of natural gas, and unstable energy policy bring new meaning to Darwin’s immortal words, survival of the fittest.

In order for your story to stand out and remain top-of-mind for potential stakeholders, government agencies, and reporters, you’ll want to highlight the key areas that differentiate you from your competitors.  Strategic communications planning starts with audience research to determine what they want and expect to hear from you. When developing your communications, ensure that your strategy and message are targeted toward the appropriate audience.

Communicating With Your Stakeholders
One of the most important things that you can do during uncertain times or periods of change is provide timely communication to your stakeholders, which include your customers, investors, community, employees – anyone that impacts the development of your company. They need reassurance that your company maintains its commitment to the market and stakeholders — and that because of x, y, z, you are positioned to succeed in the next year and beyond. Silence is not the best policy if your company wants to grow. Some communications activities may include:

  • Post timely information, in addition to press releases, on your website.
  • Incorporate an email marketing strategy
  • Create a social media presence on Facebook and Twitter
  • Consider hosting a press conference to inform local and national reporters of your story while taking the opportunity to get some exposure.

Communicating With Government

  • Some companies may want to consider a state versus a federal focus and establish stronger relationships with influential regional leaders instead of concentrating more effort on Capitol Hill.
  • If your company is part of an industry association, let your organization know how you want to be represented on the Hill and support them in promoting policy that would advance the sector.
  • Be sure to get face time for your lobby firm’s key spokespeople with government officials. Like the sales process, nothing substitutes for in-person meetings.
  • If you have the opportunity to meet with an elected official, make a lasting impression. When possible, make an effort to collect and provide actual data instead of modeled data. Solid and real information will give your company substantial credibility and elevate your image during the meeting.
  • If government relations or government contracts are essential to your business model, consider hiring a PR firm to help you develop effective messages and communications strategies that will continue to develop your relationships and build your image in a structured way, despite the political change.

Communicating With Reporters

There are tremendous benefits from appearing in the media on a regular basis. Each time a company official is interviewed, it adds a layer of credibility and status to your organization.

Tips for Talking to Reporters

  • Talk about your track record whenever possible – investors, customers and partners prefer alternative energy companies that provide predictable and repeatable results or services.
  • Know your story. Focus your comments and answers on the implications for your business.
  • Be prepared for charged questions that are asked to provoke an emotional reaction. Use bridging techniques to address difficult questions and bring the focus back to positive points about your company.
  • Stay on message. If the question is not essential to your business or operations, address it briefly, then bridge to messages that are of interest to your stakeholders.
  • Explain your technology or business interest in a straightforward, step-by-step way.
  • Don’t be drawn down a negative path. Instead of focusing on what you’re against, focus on what you are for.
  • Choose one question to answer if asked a multiple-part question.
  • If you “avoid” answering a question, do answer it if the reporter asks the same question twice.
  • Keep your answers appropriate in length – not too long or short – to prevent being misquoted.
  • Avoid industry jargon because the average person won’t understand it. Instead keep it simple.

Practice Makes Perfect
Review these concepts before every interview. Whether you are an experienced interviewee or just beginning to catch the media’s eye, these practices will ensure that media attention you get serves as a significant marketing opportunity. A positive, well-crafted story with persuasive and repeatable core messages and soundbites should always be your strategic starting point.

Visit our thought leadership page for additional tips and ideas featured in our recent messaging series.

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