For any cleantech business looking to boost its reputation, then PR is one of the most powerful marketing tools available. Getting your PR right can get you the attention you deserve, position you as a market leader and directly support your commercial goals.
Your PR includes all aspects of how you communicate with the media and by extension your target audiences. Doing PR well means supporting good journalism by giving journalists access to your unique and vital insights, plus helping them write relevant and insightful articles for their readers.
If you have any doubts about the efficiency or value of PR, imagine meeting a company at a trade fair that looks good and seems nice. Afterwards, you Google them and you find nothing except their website and one article announcing a new product from four years ago. What impression does that leave you with? Now compare that to regularly reading about a promising start-up in the trade and sustainability press and getting a consistent picture of their progress. PR is a vital puzzle piece for establishing your company’s reputation.
Working with journalists
Your PR starts with your relationships with journalists. You build that relationship by providing information that supports their writing, which can be provided in the form of:
- Sending press releases
- Giving interviews and appearing on podcasts
- Writing thought-leadership articles
- Providing commentary and reaction quotes to industry news
Building relationships with journalists can be a little daunting. They are typically very busy, so only contact them with relevant news and ideas. Also, don’t be offended if they don’t reply, it’s good practice to follow up at least once. And if they don’t respond to press releases, you can keep them on your list and try again next time, unless they’ve asked to be taken off your distribution list. As journalists receive lots and lots of emails, make sure to write catchy subject lines to give them no reason to delete your email without reading it.
Journalists from your fields of work should be interested in you. However, for them to know why you need to communicate clearly and be consistent. Journalists don’t speak marketing language, so don’t use hyperboles or marketing jargon and don’t write as you would in an academic technology paper. Instead, write as an educated and interested outsider would write about you.
Finally, journalists are human beings, so be nice to them. They are people just like the rest of us, so catching up over a coffee and having an interesting conversation is a nice thing to do.
Building an effective PR strategy
No matter your budget, you need a detailed strategy to run an effective PR campaign – and it needs to be written down. Without a written plan, you’ll be wasting valuable resources. A strategy should start by identifying what you’re hoping to achieve from PR and who you’re trying to reach.
Similar to buyer personas in content marketing, you should know which audiences you’re trying to communicate with via PR. You should have a clear idea of what they’re interested in, where they read their news and which publications they prefer.
Once you’ve set your PR strategy, it’s time to start executing it. One thing we do with all our PR clients is to create soundbites. This can be a time-consuming activity for both sides at first, though once finalised these help us to quickly react to industry news and enable us to share our clients’ expertise to journalists easily.
Responding to what’s happening in your industry means knowing what’s going on in the first place. So, signing up for daily newsletters is an excellent way of keeping up with the news that matters most to you and your industry.
There are also several affordable or even free tools out there that can help you run an effective PR campaign on a limited budget, such as Google Alerts and ResponseSource’s Journalist Enquiry Service.
For your PR campaign to be a success, you need a regular stream of coverage to maintain momentum and recognition. To achieve this, you’re going to need a reliable network of journalists that know who you are and what you stand for. However, forging these strong relationships with journalists takes time and persistence, as we mentioned earlier.
Because journalists are very busy people, it can be difficult even getting a reply from one, let alone building a relationship with them. That’s why it’s vital that, once a journalist has covered your news, you regularly engage and begin to develop a rapport with them.
There’s a good chance that if a journalist covers one of your press releases, that they’d be interested in including you in a more extended feature or interview in the near future. Make sure to get in touch with any journalist that’s covered you to see if they want to have a chat to discuss your company in more detail. Even just an informal discussion will help build a relationship, plus keep you in the journalist’s mind should they work on a story in your area in the future and need help.
One way of keeping on top of which journalists you’ve made inroads with is to keep an up-to-date record of your contacts. We have an Asana board specifically detailing our relationships with journalists. We keep track of everyone we pitch to, including the pitch itself. Suppose one of us has an existing relationship with a journalist. If this is the case, then it makes sense to use that relationship to our advantage and have that person contact them again, rather than someone different trying to forge a new relationship.
We’ve previously explained how and when you should look to progress to hitting the mainstream media. You need to ensure that solid PR foundations are in place and that you’ve built recognition with trade publications in your sector first. These outlets will help build trust with more high-profile targets. A mainstream journalist will likely only cover a company with a solid brand reputation, so will look at the coverage you have already received.
It’s also crucial to be realistic. Mainstream media coverage isn’t going to be achievable for many cleantech companies. If there isn’t going to be a regular stream of commercial developments to keep your name in the news, then achieving mainstream media attention shouldn’t be your PR focus. But if that’s the case, then it’s okay. Receiving mainstream coverage isn’t the only way of achieving your vision for the world – it depends on what your commercial goals are.
The importance of PR storytelling
Those familiar with our approach to communications know that we’re big fans of putting the ‘why’ before the ‘what’. People buy why you do something, more than what you actually do. This tactic needs to be reflected in your PR output too.
To effectively nail the art of PR storytelling, you need to craft your story around your vision. One of our clients where this is clear for all to see is Danfoss Editron. The company’s entire business strategy is built around the ambitious yet inspiring goal of ending pollution by electrifying traditionally heavy-duty industries. All of our PR activities for the company reinforce this vision and message. In press releases, we always set the scene by including facts about the emissions produced by a country, region or sector, as well as mention the anticipated carbon emission savings the project will make. Additionally, in press releases and articles we make sure to highlight the benefits of Danfoss Editron’s technology compared to its competitors, as well as the wider benefits electrification can offer, such as improving air quality.
This article was adapted from our latest webinar, which can be watched on-demand below:
Get in touch with us to discuss how we could run a highly-effective strategic PR campaign for your cleantech company that will directly support your commercial goals and make a tangible contribution to the growth of your business.