Cleantech Public Relations Tips

Cleantech public relations graphic design sample

We count ourselves lucky to support climate and energy innovators with cleantech public relations.  

But, no matter how ground-breaking an innovator’s solution is, it doesn’t mean anything if their target customer doesn’t know about them or how they can benefit from their tech.   

Here are some tips to ensure a successful cleantech public relations program:

Top Cleantech Public Relations Tips for Success

1. Understand how you fit in the marketplace  

Sustainability solutions are coming to market, and they’re coming fast – thankfully.  

But this means that at the top of your cleantech company’s to-do-list is being perfectly clear about your position in the broader marketplace.   

Just take a look at the number of electric fleet innovations, battery storage companies, solar and wind power producers and the multiple software solutions coming to market to optimize them all.  

In a growing sea of competitors, it’s crucial to differentiate yourself and communicate your unique value proposition right out of the gate. 

 

Where to start: 

Cleantech companies must think broadly about who their real competitors are. You may be competing against more alternatives than you realize.  

Take Uber, for example. It’s easy to think of Uber’s competitors as just Lyft and taxi services. But even as Uber was spearheading the ride-sharing wave, it had to compete against taxis, walking, biking, or just driving yourself. Then came other last-mile solutions like electric scooters, Car2Go and more. Uber and Lyft both jumped into the electric scooter space quickly.  

Whether you’re a new cleantech solution, a long-established company branching into more sustainable solutions or a global business entering a new geographic market, start by zooming out to see the big picture and determine where and how you can stand out.  

With the growth in cleantech innovation, your competition may not be fossil fuels, internal combustion engines or traditional power sources. You may need to position yourself against other new or emerging climate technologies. 

So, start at the 50,000-foot view first, decide where you should fit before you focus your brand messaging and its specific value and contributions.  

Good cleantech public relations will start with a true understanding of your business stands in the existing cleantech landscape.  

RELATED: Cleantech Public Relations Example

Here’s some media coverage we helped our client partner, a battery storage company, get. It’s a great example of a brand who understands their local marketplace, brand position and story: 

2. Build a strong platform before you launch.  

A strong brand is the platform you need to support your clean tech public relations. 

Are you a game-changer or shape-shifter? Having strong, purpose-driven convictions at the heart of your story is really important. You want to avoid coming to market with a brand story that continually pivots as you chase customers or investors. That just creates confusion and never gives your brand a chance to stick. 

 

Where to start: 

Assess your strengths so your messaging can amplify them and address your weaknesses to mitigate them before turning your attention outward and inviting the world’s attention.  

 

Questions cleantech brands should ask themselves:

Once your brand messaging is developed, is a content strategy in place so that you have a clear search engine position for the solution you want to be known for? Is your social media engagement building some momentum and community around your ideas and your technology to demonstrate that people care?   

Before you go out to media and customers, you must make sure you and your team have that brand platform in place including core messaging that aligns with and promotes your world view matched with discoverable digital content and amplified by active social channels.  

 

 

RELATED: Learn about our cleantech public relation services HERE.

 

 

3. Don’t overpromise—show, don’t tell 

 

Climate technologies, by their very nature, are expected to change the world and do need to be disruptive to old practices or technologies. But rather than making grandiose claims of revolutionizing the world, it’s wiser to let your portfolio or outcomes speak for itself.  

 

 

The main goal: 

Under-promise and over-deliver. This is an industry with a lot of noise and skepticism is rife.   

For instance, say you’re introducing a new home-heating system that uses renewable energy and decreases heating costs by 5%. Will you market on the fact that your tech will change how homes are heated forever, that it’s 5% cheaper or some combination of both?   

When your cleantech public relations strategy leads with the cost-savings message and provides your green cred for context, your brand will more likely stay afloat, sell product and avoid drowning in the sea of hyperbole in this industry.  

In other words, your sustainable business model is as essential to your cleantech public relations program as your environmental impact.  

 

 

4. Adapt your story to meet media needs  

 

Be prepared for your media interviews. At some point in your company’s evolution, and if you’re fortunate enough, you’ll be sitting down with many different journalists.   

 

How to prepare: 

Be aware of who you’re speaking with and the audience they represent so that you can adapt your responses.  

Some trade media are very knowledgeable about clean technologies, but daily news reporters may not be. So, don’t just start talking.  

Read our best media training tips. A good understanding of your interviewer’s credentials and a well-developed plan of action for your interview will help you effectively communicate no matter who sits in the other seat.  

 

 

What to do if your solution is too complex: 

Start all of your interviews by asking the reporter what they already know about your subject. Ideally, your cleantech public relations team will have fully briefed you or your spokesperson on the reporter’s area of interest and knowledge level. But you would be amazed at how many technology executives jump directly into the weeds and speak a mile a minute about their solutions. Best rule? Just ask.  

That way, you can provide the right amount of context or background to ensure the reporter grasps the problem your solution addresses and how it does it so brilliantly.  

You’d be surprised sometimes how little a reporter might know about cleantech, and if you’re not careful, you’ll be talking over their head and then be unhappy with the published result.   

 

 

Why it’s important to ask questions first: 

You might be tired of repeating the same datapoints or explanations in media interviews and feel like it’s old news and that everybody’s on the same page as you. They’re not!   

You’ve got to assess your audience’s knowledge and interest and then meet them where they are.  

Asking those probing questions first – or having your cleantech public relations agency do it for you as part of your pre-interview briefing – is always a sound practice!  

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie Wright is President of (W)right On Communications, Inc., the award-winning integrated strategic communications firm she founded in 1998. With offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Vancouver, B.C., her team handles complex communications challenges for B2B tech, cleantech and energy, healthcare, tourism and hospitality, not-for-profit and public sector organizations. Wright and her team elevate the agency experience through data-driven insights and measurable results for client partners.

Rediscover the Lost Art of Conversation

For us communicators at (W)right On, it’s essential we understand and practice the art of conversation. It’s in part why we recently hosted a PRSA seminar on networking skills for industry up-and-comers, and on March 28th as part of The Next 25 series celebrating our 25th Anniversary will be hosting a panel of world-class tourism and travel industry experts to talk about the Future of Sustainable Tourism. Being both in-person at our San Diego headquarters and broadcast live online, it will be another great opportunity to put our conversational skills into practice. 

Shown in Celeste Headlee’s interesting TED talk, it’s apparent that fewer and fewer of the younger generation are developing and exercising this skill. Imagine if the 1/3 of teens who send more than 100 texts per day instead worked on their conversational skills: they’d be better prepared for the dating scene, career opportunities and so much more. As Harvard University’s David Deming points out, “high-skilled, difficult to automate jobs increasingly require social skills.” In fact, surveys have for decades highlighted the importance of soft skills – such as oral communication; teamwork/collaboration; professionalism/work ethic; written communications; and critical thinking/problem solving – that are increasingly hard to come by.

Becoming an older person myself, I wrestle with this issue. On the one hand, it seems to me we need to learn – and teach – oral conversation skills for the numerous good reasons just noted. On the other hand, the tidal wave of alternate communication like texts, tweets, SnapChats and Instagram, TikTok and Facebook posts, to say nothing of the evolving immersive world, cannot be ignored. Communication evolves, and so must we all. So is the latter the new reality, with the art of conversation destined to a fading past? I think not.

At (W)right On, we deeply understand the importance of relationships in just about all endeavors. And at the heart of every developing and flourishing relationship is conversation. When we provide presentation training, media training, a social media program, and just about everything else we do, at the core of each is conversation. So while Celeste focuses on tips for conversations while you’re in them at networking events, say, I offer these thoughts as to how to get in – and out – of them.

  1. Go for it– Relax and let go of your fear, since there’s always something you can use to start a conversation. Ask a question, whether it’s for help, an opinion or advice. Make a provocative statement, or muse about a hypothetical situation. Noticing something about the other person (not too personal) or a mutual friend will usually pique their interest to talk with you. Having some topics in mind beforehand will let your subconscience be doing some prep work for you.
  2. Be aware of timing– Catching someone with their mouth full or clearly with one foot out the door is likely to be unproductive. But noticing and approaching someone by themselves in a crowded room will usually be met with appreciation.
  3. Embrace diversity– Conversations are more interesting if they’re with someone less like yourself. To switch things up, avoid the ‘comfort zone’ with your clone, and instead seek to converse with someone who knows things you don’t, be it a younger or older person or someone from another culture, societal background and/or education type and level. You’re less likely to find yourself drawing blanks since differences and new information are inherently more interesting than consistent agreement.
  4. Exit gracefully– Too much of a good thing can be just that, so it’s important to know when to move on gracefully. If needed, you can use a common reason (‘have to get back to…’, ‘connect with [person] before they leave’, ‘take this call/text I’ve been waiting for’, etc). If needed, you can also pull someone else into the conversation to tactfully take over for you. If you’re there with a colleague, you may even have a pre-arranged cue to help you guard your time. In any case, listen for the natural transition, keep the ending on a positive note and recap follow-up actions (so that it’s not so much a ‘good bye’ as it is a pause in the conversation to be picked up later).

The art of conversation is just that: an art. Though some seem to possess the gift of gab, it really isn’t something genetically programmed within a certain few. Great conversation skills must be taught, role modeled and ultimately learned and kept sharp. Like many skills, becoming good at communicating is as much about attitude and willingness to put in the effort as it is about technique – if you continue to work hard and develop your abilities, before too long it becomes effortless.

This post is updated from an earlier version published in 2016.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Grant Wright is CEO of (W)right On Communications, Inc., the award-winning integrated strategic communications firm founded in 1998. With offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Vancouver, B.C., his team handles complex communications challenges for B2B tech, cleantech and energy, healthcare, tourism and hospitality, not-for-profit and public sector organizations. Wright and his team elevate the agency experience through data-driven insights and measurable results for client partners.

Four PR Trends for 2023

When you advise innovators, change makers and industry leaders every day, it’s expected that you’re also keeping a finger or two on the pulse of shifting trends in business, public relations, and media. It’s our job to help client partners understand current trends, spot future trends, and make the most of them.

So, what are we ready to make the most of in 2023?

1. Immersive Storytelling and the Metaverse

Meta and Mark Zuckerberg have bet big on the Metaverse. Other companies are also investing heavily in virtual reality hardware, software, and immersive environments. They’re holding virtual meetings and gatherings, conducting onboarding and employee training, and building culture and community with virtual celebrations and shared experiences across time zones.

McKinsey reports $120 billion in venture capital, private equity, and corporate investment in the Metaverse during the first five months of 2022, and that by 2030, the consumer and enterprise value of the Metaverse may be equal to Japan’s economic output.

While immersive environments are perfectly suited for gaming and entertainment, all brands can and should stake their claim and build their brand presence in immersive environments like Horizon Worlds, The Sandbox and Decentraland. There’s an advantage to being an early adopter.

The Metaverse today reminds me of social networks in 2007. The numbers weren’t big enough for brands to dive in in large numbers, but if you parked your brand’s handle on Twitter and started experimenting with early content and conversations, you were able to grow and prosper as those platforms began to take off. Those who were late to the party had to work much harder to attract followers and build communities.

Immersive environments allow people to experience your story directly. What if you could take your ideal trade show booth, retail location, classroom, pop-up experience or other environment and untether it from time, geography, or the laws of physics? Imagine those possibilities.

While pondering what kind of out-of-this-world space you’d create, it’s worth noting that virtual experiences also lend themselves to highly serious uses.

Military medicine uses VR to counteract PTSD triggers. A museum exhibit places patrons on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to experience history first hand as Martin Luther King delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech. How could your mission or purpose be better fulfilled if time and place could be transcended through immersive storytelling?

Getting started in the Metaverse does not need to be expensive as many platforms and tools that can be adapted and customized to get your brand out there. It will not get less costly as tools improve and people’s expectations rise. (Right now, it’s okay to have avatars with no legs, for instance, but even that will soon be a thing of the past.)

Our 2022 trade show booth for XCOM Labs allowed immersive VR experiences.

Last year, (W)right On Communications designed a creative, branded trade show booth for our client partner XCOM Labs where attendees could experience a range of different simulations and trainings. The booth featured XCOM’s wireless extended reality (or XR) system which is an infrastructure solution for companies seeking the highest quality VR or mixed reality experiences. It has no wires and little to no latency in the network and supports multiple users moving through the environment. We’ve experienced the system a few times and it is always very comfortable and lifelike.

Over the past several months, I also completed the Institute for Public Relations Masterclass in Immersive Storytelling. This series features companies, creative studios and consultancies developing augmented reality, virtual reality and other extended reality experiences and solutions.

As part of (W)right On’s 25th anniversary year celebration, we’re planning an event to share some of our immersive storytelling knowledge and experience with our client partners and agency friends. Keep an eye out for details!

2. Artificial Intelligence Becomes the Writer’s Best Friend

Some readers may not want to hear this, but artificial intelligence is going mainstream in 2023. The great news is that communicators will save a ton of time this year if we task a tool like ChatGPT or Jasper.AI with our first drafts.

These tools require a very short learning curve. My best advice is to jump in and experiment. For now, you create a free ChatGPT profile that does more than chats. It can generate social posts, blog posts, news articles, press releases, web pages, emails, memos and more. It will render the content in a blink so that you can spend your time making the second draft more interesting, entertaining or informative.

It would be foolish not to use these tools to generate a passable first draft. However, they’re not yet a replacement for the human element – humor, color commentary, metaphors, tone.

ChatGPT was launched by OpenAI for free, for a limited time, on November 30 to test and get feedback from users. I asked ChatGPT to draft me a paragraph about OpenAI’s goals:

“The goal of the ChatGPT model is to provide a human-like conversational experience through the use of natural language processing (NLP) techniques. The model is based on the GPT (Generative Pre-training Transformer) architecture, which has been shown to be very effective in generating human-like text. By fine-tuning the model on conversational data, ChatGPT aims to generate responses that are contextually relevant, fluent, and appropriate for the given conversation. This can be used to power chatbots, virtual assistants, and other conversational AI applications. The overall goal is to enable more natural and efficient communication between humans and computers.”

I couldn’t have said it any better myself.

3. Uncertainty Everywhere All the Time

I learned a new word in 2022- and I think it’s here to stay: VUCA.

It stands for volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. Get used to it. It’s a VUCA world. Economically, geopolitically, medically (physical and mental health) and environmentally—no one knows what happens next. Not exactly fun, but something strategic communicators need to accept and mitigate.

How do savvy brands and their comms teams navigate a VUCA world? Back in early 2020- as the pandemic was first impacting the U.S., we wrote about applying the classic five stages of grief to crisis communications. This advice stands in a VUCA world. But let’s add to it:

• Change is coming at people faster than they can cope.
• Allow your stakeholders time to process big news or changes.
• Be a source of analysis to help bring perspective and context to big or rapid changes.
• Create feedback mechanisms so that people experiencing change can process their thoughts and feelings productively and so that you and your team can monitor your stakeholders’ thoughts and feelings and adjust messages or methods as needed.
• Manage expectations and don’t overpromise. Let people know what to realistically expect next, even if you’re unclear on what exactly happens next (like in a winter ice storm a few days before Christmas that overwhelms an airline’s scheduling software leading to unprecedented cancellations). You can at least tell stakeholders when they can expect to get the next update rather than feel you need to make a promise you can’t meet or exceed!
• Don’t use your communications to add to the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, or ambiguity.

When people are left to guess or second guess their trusted institutions, they’re no longer trusted. We all know that polarization and distrust in traditional institutions have soared. People are filling the VUCA vacuum with conspiracy theories. Which give them something to believe in and, while outlandish, people prefer to believe the conspiracy theory over the complex and ambiguous truth.

4. Enchanting Narratives: Give People Something Worth Believing In

Storytelling is a natural construct that creates characters, tension, and a suspense. Good stories are interesting- as they transport the listener, reader, or viewer. We’ve all got to get better at storytelling in 2023 and beyond and give people stories that are worth believing in.

Earlier this year, I read “The Enchanted Brand,” a book by accomplished brand strategist Jane Cavalier who makes a compelling case that people are seeking a bit of “enchantment” in this confuzzling VUCA world.

Take the Netflix series “Stranger Things.” I loved its third season. If you loved it too, you’ll understand this analysis completely. In all three seasons, the Upside Down is the malevolent world that the show’s characters get sucked into. It’s a very VUCA place. In season three, the Upside Down becomes personified in Vecna, an evil overlord who breaks and takes kids when they’re isolated and alone. He’s terrifying and powerful. I had no idea how Max would ever escape his clutches when he came for her.

As it turns out, that the way to safety in “Stranger Things” season three was enchantment. The kids just had to play Max’s favorite song to give her the strength to escape Vecna’s pull. (Cue Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill.”) That song plus the love of her best friends pulls her from his clutches.

During turbulent times, strategic communicators must engage the imagination and help people transcend the VUCA world that, like Vecna in “Stranger Things,” keeps poking their flight-or-fight instinct.

So, how can your organization be enchanting?

• What’s its origin story? Is there a story arc and characters in your humble beginnings that is inspiring or relatable? Did you recently overcome a big challenge or help your employees or customers overcome one?
• How can your brand purpose enchant? Are you bringing it to life through employee or customer storytelling or are you creating magical moments that bring it to life, then capture and share those with employees and customers?
• How can your brand inspire and elevate employees, customers, and investors so they feel more emotionally connected and have a reason to believe in you that transcends their daily realities, fears, and frustrations?

I’m a fan of Alaska Airlines, and this winter they partnered with nonprofits in San Jose and San Diego to surprise some students with free flights who couldn’t afford to travel home for the holidays. The students’ heartfelt reactions were completely enchanting to me as I passed those videos on to two other people I know. This promotion is a great example of how to create and tell enchanting stories.

It also shows how storytelling starts with actions. Brands must start by walking the talk and being enchanting before talking about themselves that way. Word and deeds must always be in sync!

Going back to our number one 2023 trend, The Metaverse, it’s a perfect vehicle for enchanting your employees and customers. You can create fairy tale experiences and bring your brand to life in ways the real world won’t let you.

Speaking of the real world, our number three trend, VUCA as the new normal, also comes into play because enchanting storytelling is VUCA’s antidote. You might not want to entrust AI with formulating an enchanting story but you can task it with a solid first draft and then add your own magic.

Just remember in 2023 to bring a little enchantment into your PR, social media, and content as a clap back to the real-world Vecnas trying to bring us all down. And, if all else fails, keep running up that hill.

9 Things to Know About the Future of Local News

I recently spoke to a group of business and community leaders about the future of local news. As a public relations professional, I’ve had a ringside seat on the ever-shrinking local news landscape. However, many leaders I’ve worked with in the private and public sectors tend to over-estimate how much scrutiny their bad or good news may attract, while others dismiss the need to actively participate in local media interview requests and reserve their time and energies for national opportunities or what they know will be a puff piece.

My goal was to help these leaders understand the trends shaping the local media landscape so that they could better reach their constituents and stakeholders through earned media as well as via alternate approaches, given local media’s shrinking influence.

Here are nine fast facts with tips for business and organization leaders:

1. The Future of Local News Is Subscriptions, Not Advertising

Print and digital circulation numbers for local newspapers have been consistently falling (from 13.9 million to 8.3 million between 2015 and 2020), but stabilized in 2020. The decline has reduced ad revenue, disrupting the old advertising-driven publishing model.

Another trend started in 2020. For the first time, circulation revenue from subscriptions drove more revenue than both print and digital ad revenue for local print publications and their digital assets. That’s a commentary on how far ad revenue has fallen. And it’s why you’ve been seeing more online publications behind paywalls, as digital subscriptions are often called.

TIP: The Free Press is Worth Paying For.

→ Your organization’s news needs to be interesting enough for people to pay for. Focus on what’s in it for the reader or viewer. How are you helping serve the interests of local news consumers vs. the needs of your organization?

2. Future of Local News Will Serve the Informed Public

Fewer and fewer people are consuming local news across all sources. Only about one in three U.S. adults even follows local news at all.

For journalists and public relations agencies like (W)right On Communications, credibility and reach with the informed public (the one in three people paying attention) are still vital. If you’re a local news subscriber, then consider yourself a member of the informed public.

As someone who is more engaged in your community than most of your neighbors, you’re an important target of our communications and news reporting. You’re more likely to vote (hopefully), show up at city hall, trial or recommend new products and places and understand how your daily behaviors impact your environment.

As subscriptions become the backbone of the local news business, leaders can use earned media to target the most informed and engage constituents in their local markets.

TIP: Reach the Disengaged through Entertainment + Enchantment

→ If you can’t reach people with facts and information, entertain with emotion and be memorable with story. Find and share what makes your story moving and provide local media with assets (b-roll, photos, characters and heroes) to bring it to life.

3. The Future of Local News is Digital with Limited Reach

One of the steadfast rules of marketing is meeting your audience where they are. Current data suggests 84% of U.S. adults get their information from their digital device like smartphone, computer or tablet. Half do so often.

News websites and news apps were cited by two-thirds of adults. But 25% of people still rarely or never use such sources. This 25% also don’t use search engines or frankly any other digital source. They may be getting their information from social media, which recent studies have shown misinforms: people who relied on social media for their news were less engaged and less knowledgeable.

During the pandemic, this was a real problem. A very large number of people had no idea what was going on. You’d find people not wearing masks because they had no idea that there was a mask mandate and later had no idea when it had been lifted. Even when their family’s health and life are on the line, they’re not tuning in to the news of the day via any platform.

TIP: Share Your Coverage on Social and Boost

→ When you’ve got a news story you want everyone to see or read, share it on social and boost it with a small investment to the audience you might have missed.

4. The Future of Local News On Social is YouTube

Social media as a news source shrank a bit this past year. It’s still the third most used platform for news, cited by 48% of people as a frequent news source. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter were the three most popular networks for news.

For leaders considering reaching constituents and stakeholders with their news via social media, YouTube is a platform deserving of a second look. YouTube users stream news about subjects they’re interested in as they ‘cut the cord’ from their cable providers. As the second largest search engine (and owned by Google), YouTube provides “news” on an endless breadth of subjects on demand — from foreign language to gamer news to regular streaming newscasts and segments. Local TV news stations have their own YouTube stations.

TIP: Consider Producing Your Own YouTube News Content.

→ Seeing is believing and YouTube allows for longer format reporting that can be teased or promoted on other social apps like Instagram and Facebook Stories, Twitter, Snapchat or TikTok.

5. The Future of Local News is Podcasting

The percentage of people who get their news from podcasts is growing every so slightly every year. While a few people say that they never listen to podcasts, what’s noteworthy about those who do listen is that they skew younger. Sixty-two percent of 18 to 49-year-olds report listening to podcasts for news sometimes or often. And rates are also higher among more educated and affluent listeners.

Leaders need to make time for podcast interviews to reach younger, more education and affluent members of the informed public. Podcasts are a great channel to reach these important audiences.

TIP: Embrace Podcasts to Reach Younger, Affluent Audiences

→ Not only are podcast audiences growing, but podcast interviews have been discoverable on Google since 2019 and, unlike radio interviews, can have a reach that grows over time.

6. The Future of Local News Is Nonprofit

As local journalism gets vastly outspent by Big Tech, ad revenue shrinks and the size of the uninformed public grows, is it any wonder that a dozen new nonprofit newsrooms launch every year?

Nonprofit models remove the profit imperative and allow newsrooms to be funded through grants, donations and subscriptions or memberships. Some great reporting is coming out of nonprofit newsrooms.

Individual citizens can support local nonprofit news organizations through monthly contributions that are no more than a monthly subscription may run. Your local PBS affiliate has relied on donor support for decades.

TIP: Support a Nonprofit Local News Organization

→ Get involved as a donor or board member to help local nonprofit newsrooms flourish.

7. The Future of Local News is Greater Privacy Protections

Another major shift that’s just starting to be felt is Apple’s new privacy protections. When you’re online on IOS devices, Apple no longer allows advertisers to embed cookies and use their website pixels to track your behaviors and market their goods to you.

This has had an immediate and very significant impact on Facebook’s fortunes. Facebook took a $10 billion revenue hit as digital advertisers scaled back. It’s a positive development to me as a communicator because digital marketing had become so transactional. It’s a reminder to leaders not to focus on click-through rates at the expense of relationship and trust building.

TIP: Build Trust Through PR to Support Digital Transactions

→ Build trust and credibility through strategic communications before you ask for the sale. That’s the secret to higher closing rates. And your consumers are looking for trust and credibility signals before they buy.

8. The Future of Local News is User Generated

Technically, anyone with a camera-equipped smart phone is “the media” as well as anyone with an audience is “the media.” Influencers and eyewitness videos can shape opinions and drive awareness just as powerfully as a mainstream, top tier local media outlet.

Newsroom cutbacks mean journalists are more likely assigned to multiple beats and assignments every day. So, leaders cannot expect them to come into interviews with much knowledge or understanding and, therefore, must work hard to bring them up to speed so that they can accurately report on their news.

The right influencer or content creator with a niche following and deep familiarity and passion for your topic may move the needle with the people that matter more than highly respected and accomplished media outlets or journalists.

TIP: Find Niche Content Creators to Reach New Audiences

→ Find the right influencer or content creator to reach niche audiences with your messages. But be ready to pay for that content and access while also giving them control over how your story is packaged.

9. The Future of Local News is Building Trust

Released in January at Davos every year for the past 22 years, the Edelman Trust Barometer tracks trust in business, government, media and NGOs. This year’s theme was “A Cycle of Distrust” which the authors say was fueled by the government and media industries.

Democracy is built on trust. As government leaders vie for votes and media outlets vie for clicks and viewers, the public is left feeling anxious. They’re looking to NGOs and businesses to take the lead on societal issues. Like Apple did on privacy or like Nordstrom, Sephora and Macy’s did with the 15 Percent Pledge to make 15% of their retail shelf space available to black-owned brands. Other examples include the businesses that exited Russia after its invasion of Ukraine and Ernst and Young’s R U OK program to help employees with mental health and addiction issues.

At the World Economic Forum, the new rallying cry in response to this cycle of distrust has become an emphasis on a new model of Stakeholder Capitalism to replace decades of Shareholder Capitalism. Under the old model, the company was put at the center, and everything served the business. It was a profit-centered model. The new model puts the wellbeing of people and planet at the center of a business.

TIP: Restoring Trust Starts Locally.

→ From local news to city council to school boards, focus on restoring trust and respect in your backyard. A healthy local news media supports an informed and engaged public and a sense that we can trust our leaders to conduct themselves in the public’s best interests. 

→ Read my Q&A with Lynn Walsh of the Trusting News project to learn how the media is working to restore trust through more transparent reporting practices.

So, What Can You Do to Support Local Journalism and Break the Cycle of Distrust?

Subscribe to and support local news and nonprofit news. Encourage subscriptions amongst your coworkers, friends and family.

Professionally, take a more relational and less transactional approach to your communications. That means you start first with listening and understanding your stakeholders and their needs. Whether you’re reaching the informed public through the media or sharing your story through other means such as your website, email newsletter, social media, speaking opportunities, events or video, demonstrate empathy and frame and share stories in a way that matters to your stakeholders.

Most important, as a leader, make sure that your organization delivers on the expectations you set in your communications. That’s foundational to building trust.

Be realistic in the expectations you set. Be consistent in your communications and messages you deliver. Therefore, when things go wrong, your track record of empathy, transparency and consistency gives your brand or organization the best chance of an understanding and patient response from employees, customers, investors, donors and, of course, the media.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie Wright is President of (W)right On Communications, Inc., the award-winning integrated strategic communications firm she founded in 1998. With offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Vancouver, B.C., her team handles complex communications challenges for B2B tech, cleantech and energy, healthcare, tourism and hospitality, not-for-profit and public sector organizations. Wright and her team elevate the agency experience through data-driven insights and measurable results for client partners.

Three Surprising B2B PR Tips to Secure Media Attention

By Chancelor Shay —Director, B2B & Infrastructure Development
Twitter: @chanceshay

If you’re not on the cutting edge of artificial intelligence-controlled robotics or have the fastest supercomputer in the world, it’s probably hard to get journalists and media outlets charged up to talk about your B2B brand. Brands that struggle with this typically fall into the trap of believing every editor is interested in their niche position in the B2B world and talk (or type) ad nauseam about what it is they do.

Nobody cares.

Even if it’s a trade publication and the writer covers your vertical, they still don’t care.

What they do care about is writing cool stories their readers will dig and doing their job well. Your PR success depends on your ability to help them achieve that goal.

Here are three counterintuitive steps to secure more coverage while wasting less time.

The best stories aren’t about your brand

Most media outlets don’t like to dedicate an entire piece to one vendor. They’re job is to tell stories that will be as interesting as possible to the greatest number of readers. Unless your brand is already a household name, this means that the most impactful story pitch will tell your customer’s story. The outlet’s readers can relate to your customer because they are just like them. A story about how your customer did something awesome (and how you played a role in it) stands a better chance at being picked up than raving about how innovative your product/service is or its features and benefits.

Don’t talk about your product/service

If you’re proud or excited about what your company does, go tell your mother. If a journalist was already interested in your brand, they’d already have reached out to you instead of being on the receiving end of your pitch. Instead, develop a pitch to address what your customers (a.k.a. the outlet’s readers) are dealing with. Speak in terms of their pain points. The odds are that that your company isn’t nearly as cool as the ecosystem in which you operate. So, bring in as many different perspectives and folds to the story as you can so that the reporter or writer can envision an engaging story with a story arc that shares real-world challenges and not just free publicity for your brand.

Be the oil can, not a squeaky wheel

Any PR pro will tell you that if you ask 10 different journalists how they like to be pitched, you’ll get 10 different answers. However, one thing is for sure – PR pros’ jobs are to make the journalist’s job easier. This means helping the journalist write about something they’re interested in covering rather than trying to convince them that they should write about something interesting to your brand. Do you want to be the kid crying on the playground for attention or do you want to be the kid who brought the Pokémon cards to recess? When you approach pitching the media from a service mindset and ask yourself, “how can what I or my client know help them reach their goals” (see tip #1), you’ll become a resource to reporters. You’ll have to start by reaching out to the writer and in two sentences summarizing their recent coverage and writing style (to validate you know who they are and what they do) and then offer up a C-Suite executive in your company who has a reputation and can help the writer make sense of topics they’re interested in. After they use your spokesperson for the first time, then you can start pitching them your own story ideas.

If you think you’re ready for the big leagues, check out our post on How to Earn Media Coverage in Major News Outlets.

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(W)right On Communications won a Silver Bulldog Award for Best B2B Product Launch for our work on this campaign. Read the full case study written by the Bulldog Reporter for in-depth tips.

(W)right On Communications Best of 2017! #GSD

By Julie Wright —President
Twitter: @juliewright


I’m excited to see what 2018 holds for (W)right On Communications, but when I look back on 2017, I’m awed by all that our growing agency achieved! As we like to say here, we GSD–got “stuff” done! But more than that, we made stuff happen, and that’s how we measure success. Here’s a quick glimpse at the events that made a difference in 2017 from where I sit.

Epic Team Outing to Kick Off the Year

JANUARY: We started 2017 off on the right foot with a trip to Universal Studios to bring our hard-working team together for a fun outing. There was just one little challenge: the torrential rain. Talk about team building. Wearing our ponchos like super heroes, we braved the storm and had a blast. The day left us soaked with memories.

In January, we also celebrated Chance Shay’s promotion to Practice Area Director overseeing the agency’s dedicated B2B & Technology Public Relations practice and Land Development PR & Community Outreach practice. With eight years of strategic communications experience, Chance continues to make significant contributions to (W)right On Communications and 2017 was no exception.

Talking PR Measurement in Miami

FEBRUARY: PR measurement was something we continued to invest in throughout 2017. Attending the Ragan PR Measurement Conference in Miami Feb. 1-2 allowed me to hear from industry veterans, academics and PR leaders from MuckRack, Google, IBM and Spirit Airlines–to name just a few of the great speakers.

Ragan’s 2018 PR Measurement Conference is in San Diego Feb. 20 and 21. If you’re interested in staying on top of the latest in PR measurement trends, tech and best practices, it’s not too late to register here.

Launched “Thoughtful Thursdays”—WOC’s Internal Professional Development Series

MARCH: We launched our “Thoughtful Thursdays” in March. These were one-hour professional development workshops that brought our team together (in-person and via our web-conferencing tech) to learn the latest in PR measurement, media interviewing, social media advertising, integrated strategic campaigns, leading effective meetings and more. Sessions were led by Chance Shay, Kara DeMent and me. I really enjoyed these mornings and now look forward to our 2018 series.

Adding Media Integration Services

APRIL: We added media integration services to our agency public relations services. Unlike traditional publicity, media integration opportunities are paid, not earned, opportunities. They can feature your product or service as part of a national, regional or local news or lifestyle program and will often include a lead generation component. Media integration works extremely well for products that are experiential like a resort or destination, and our hospitality public relations practice and its client partners have made good use of media integration since the service launched.

Opening WOC’s Downtown L.A. Office

MAY: We took a space on the 35th floor of the Gas Tower in the Banker’s Hill area of downtown Los Angeles. Our convenient base in L.A. makes it easier for the team to meet with clients and media plus opens the door to new relationships. Personally, I love my Pacific Surfliner trips up and down the Southern California coast plus exploring all that downtown L.A. offers like the sights and flavors of Grand Central Market.

Taking the PR Measurement Conversation Global

JUNE: Grant and I traveled to Bangkok to attend the AMEC Global Summit on Measurement and annual awards dinner. The conference attracted communicators, media researchers and evaluation experts from across Europe and Southeast Asia. One of the highlights for me was meeting Professor Jim Macnamara in person. Somehow, I had the good fortune to sit next to him throughout the two-day conference. As the author of all the textbooks I studied on PR measurement, I was thrilled to meet him in person and hear about his latest projects firsthand.

A New WOC Strategist as Sweet as She is Swedish

JULY: Sandra Wellhausen joined our team this summer, and it felt like we’d found the missing bolt in an Ikea Billy bookcase box!

Nothing Eclipsed August

AUGUST: Pardon the pun, but a lot of effort went into seeing this major solar event. Being able to enjoy it with friends and family was the result of a great team supporting our (W)right On client partners and operations.

Peak Mindfulness

SEPTEMBER: It was a month of mindfulness for WOC with everyone at the agency focused on major client projects from a video for the City of San Diego’s energy efficiency programs to the grand opening of the University of Redlands’ new San Diego campus. Speaking of universities, our friends at the College of Business Administration at CSUSM had Grant and I in to speak to students during their “In the Executive’s Chair” class. But peak mindfulness (you’re expecting puns, now, I hope?) occurred as Shae Geary and I attended the Yosemite Wellness Retreat Weekend hosted by client partner Tenaya Lodge. We hiked Sentinel Dome stopping for yoga as we started off and once we summited. It was out of this world. Check out the link for their 2018 wellness weekend dates!

Are You Guys Dressing Up for Halloween? Of Course.

OCTOBER: It was another fun Halloween at (W)right On’s San Diego office.

Keeping the Creative Visual Communications Flowing

NOVEMBER: We were grateful that KeAsha Rogers joined our team bringing her graphic and digital design skills and passion to benefit our client partners. She had to hit the ground running as we were full-tilt in a sprint ourselves to launch a rebrand for one of our nonprofit client partners. (KeAsha, 16-hour days aren’t the norm—we swear!)

Making a Difference for a Major Nonprofit Client Partner

DECEMBER: December was the debut of Radiant Health Centers, a rebrand for AIDS Services Foundation Orange County which had been providing HIV testing, prevention and education services and comprehensive social services for 32 years. The nonprofit’s leadership saw the need to offer broader services to Orange County’s most vulnerable LGBT community members. Their launch event was a rousing success, and it was a proud moment for the entire (W)right On team. We have had the good fortune of helping many nonprofit clients over the years, but the courage and vision of Radiant Health Centers’ leadership and supporters have really touched and inspired us.

Not to be overlooked, we celebrated Kara DeMent’s promotion from Communications Coordinator to Communications Strategist in December.

What’s in Store for 2018?

We have so much planned for this year, but at (W)right On Communications, we like to take stock of our achievements and not gloss over the high points we hit in 2017.

2018 will mark a very significant milestone in the agency’s history. And to celebrate it, we’re working on exciting plans that will continue our growth, our ability to produce wins for our client partners and opportunities for our team members to grow and achieve. Stay tuned!