When trying to communicate about topics related to the green movement, companies sometimes use four or five different words to describe a strategy, product or initiative. What I am referring to of course is the many derivative words related to green. Is it green or it it clean? Is it sustainable or environmentally friendly? Is it renewable energy or is it clean technology? Are we cutting CO2 emissions or greenhouse gases?
A fascinating study published by the Yale Forum and reported on by GreenTech Media yesterday sheds some light on this. The study takes a look at advertising copy related to green in full-page ads placed in The Atlantic, National Geographic, National Review, and Time from January 2005 through June 2011 and underscores the different terms and words used and how they’ve changed. A great read as we consider how to communicate green messages on behalf of our clients.
I attended the Candidates Energy Forum yesterday which featured Colorado gubernatorial candidates Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and former Congressman Scott McInnis.
There certainly was a lot of political rhetoric spoken and the highlighting of resumes and experience. One of the qualifications Mayor Hickenlooper highlighted was his experience running the successful Wynkoop Brewery which is practically an institution on Denver.
He said three things he learned in the restaurant business prepared him for his role and responsibilities as Mayor:
1) Dealing with red tape. He said that restautranteurs must deal with all kinds of local and state regulations, inspections emploee matters and the like. To be successful, one must navigate through these adeptly.
2) Building a team. Building a staff that believes in you is critical.
3) Deadling with a very fickly and critical public. There is no customer that can be as difficult to please as a restaurant patron.
All words of wisdom I thought. I also thought that there are similar parallels with PR professionals. There certainly are key skills that PR professionals can parlay into a political career if they so chose. Aside from pleasing challenging clients and selling ideas to tough reporters, are there others that come to mind? All thoughts and comment welcome.
In this weekend’s New York Times Magazine, the captions and efficacy of photographer Roman Vishniac’s work in capturing pre-war Easter Europe is questioned. While various sources in the article debate whether or not his captions distort the reality of the pictures or if his images project a narrow point of view of that time and place, there is a technology debate in the article as well. Were the pictures staged or not?
This actually can likely be proven if we know what kind of camera he used: The article states:
“Other claims have required only common sense to refute, like Vishniac’s assertion that he took moving footage with a camera hidden in a valise. ‘Have you seen film cameras from that time?’ Benton notes. ‘They’re not exactly camcorders you can just stick in your purse.’”
Most of Vishniac’s pictures in question were taken in the late 1930s. And here is what a typical camera looked like from that era.
Isn’t technology more at the heart of this debate? What kind of camera did he use? Would like to see some follow up piece that hones in on this piece of the arguments made.
I can’t help but shed some more light on a very interesting article on the cover of the Business section of the NY Times this Sunday titled, “Spinning the Web: PR in Silicon Valley.”
Although it provides a good broad-brush overview of some of the social media work PR practitioners are engaging in, the story is much more about a particular PR professional who is very well connected in the Valley.
Brooke Hammerling is not only noted as a good publicist for her start-up clients, but as someone who is well connected to the tech industry’s elite cognescenti, she does some business development as well. Because of her expansive rolodex of contacts, she can make the right introductions to the right dealmakers on behalf of her clients.
By now, a somewhat loosely defined influencer relations program is part of what most PR firms can offer - but biz dev is a very different beast altogether.
While PR agencies may never truly deliver business development as a distinct offering, a lesson learned here is that all agencies have their own ecosystem of contacts.
Connecting them and proactively making the right introductions within their own ecosystem can be a huge value-add and build customer loyalty.
On Wednesday, I attended the Sustainable Opportunities Conference here in Denver. I see the clean energy industry and sustainability sector as bright spots in the tough economy at the moment.
There certainly was a lot of positivity at the conference relating to the future of this market, particularly in the metropolitan Denver area as more clean energy companies like RES Americas move here. Colorado continues to be a leader in attracting these companies and President Obama reinforced the State’s leadership by signing the Stimulus package here last month at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
Without giving a full wrap up of the conference, I wanted to give you a few snippets of some interesting comments I heard in the panel sessions and in my conversations over the last few days. Here are some controversial comments that stand out:
- The challenge with plug-in cars is that our grid is 30-40 years old and it’s already overtaxed…Plug-in cars sound great but we should be investing resources in updating our grid instead. If we have wind power in East Kansas, we can’t get it to Chicago or Denver…that’s the crux of the problem. - Michael Peck, MAPA Group
- The US manufacturing system is in bad shape. The expertise has skipped a generation. Most of our wind turbines have to be manufactured overseas, because there is no expertise in the US. We need to get back to teaching people how to go from welding to material science. - Chris Mone, Vestas Wind
- Oh Happy Day! - Denver Mayor John Hickelooper when commenting on the dedication of the 300KW solar system atop the Colorado Convention Center, where the conference was held.
- We need to eat our main meal of energy efficiency before we eat our dessert of renewable energy. - Mark McLanahan, MMA Renewable Ventures
See you at the Denver Green Festival!
A great piece quoting our very own Paul Sherer. This takes a look at how we’re helping clients like SunPower enter the discussion thread on Obama’s clean energy stimulus plan.
As one who considers himself fairly well read on the subject of green, I was amazed as to how much more I learned from talking to people in the industry.
The event drew 60 professionals, all from different segments of the local renewable energy market in the Denver Metro area. And from the robust attendance and buzz in the room, it would appear that Denver is a hotbed for this industry and that there’s a lot of excitement about the emerging clean-tech boom.
I chatted with folks of some of the usual suspects in clean tech – wind power and solar PV manufacturers and installers like Clipper Wind and Namaste Solar but also learned about a new emerging part of the industry much lower down on the hype curve - algae biofuels.
While I certainly left the event much more informed about important industry legislation like the proposed Lieberman Warner Climate Security Act, I also couldn’t help but feel some déjà vu, like perhaps this could be the dot com boom all over again.
Much like during the dot com boom, there are countless small local players offering similar services. Will they all survive, consolidate or is there enough of a market to sustain all of them? And while my train of thought started to move down the path of – have I not seen this before, really, how many pet e-commerce sites do you need, it was suddenly brought back to positivity by a conversation I had with an exec from Vibrant Solar.
While some in the media are already saying that clean-tech is a boom ready to bust, the industry guys say this boom is just getting started – and it will go on indefinitely.
The chief reason – it’s all about the money. The fact is, a very small percentage of Americans will go green because it feels right. We live in a capitalist society where money talks above all else. And every day it makes more and more fiscal sense to purchase solar panels by tapping into the growing list of government rebates, to get rid of your SUV and bike to work and for the utilities to build or lease wind farms.
So although I left the event perhaps with some of the clean-tech kool-aid aftertaste, once it wore off, I still felt myself still thinking that this is just the beginning…
So I’d like to hear what you think, is clean-tech just a boom and a fad or do you think it’s hear to stay?
Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility