International talks in Copenhagen. A boom in renewable energy and retrofitting jobs from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Serious commitments from state and local governments to save energy. Corporate America going green. These are just a few of the reasons that climate change and organizations related to it are gaining ground, increasing legitimacy and creating jobs in an economy that still has a recession fresh in its memory. And all of this means that if you are one of these organizations — you need a public relations arm.
As someone who works in the energy field, I interact almost daily with contractors, nonprofits and renewable energy companies who deal in everything from research and development of solar panels to the manufacturing of wind turbines. Some of these entities are easier to communicate with than others, though.
As the owner or CEO of a company that brands itself with energy, you might be hesitant to consider adding a public relations practitioner to your staff. You might think, “Hey, business is booming right now, so I don’t need any of that stuff. It’s just an added cost anyway.” Think again, corporate America.
People who have to get information about your business need real communicators with whom they can interact, not stuffy CEOs or uninformed sales reps. And public relations is not marketing or advertising, if done correctly. Marketing might increase sales, and advertising can raise awareness, but only PR will develop the long-lasting relationships that you want and need with your employees, stakeholders, clients and, of course, the media. (And you thought PR was only media relations, didn't you?)
There will be increasing interest in your business in the coming years as the U.S. — and the world — switches over to a green-collar workforce in a new clean energy economy. Weatherization technicians and geothermal engineers are the computer programmers of the future. Therefore, your company will grow, and you’ll need an arm of your company who can perform tasks such as outreach programs, speech coaching/writing, PR campaigns, relationship management, internal communication, crisis and issues management and environmental scanning (that’s looking for potential issues on the horizon, taking an actional legitimation stance). Of course, PR practitioners are also good for getting you involved in the social media realm — the right way — something that many organizations still struggle with today.
If people have to wait to get in touch with your vice president just to get info or a quote for a news story, or if your company doesn’t keep itself legitimate in the eyes of the public, things won’t continue to be as profitable as they are now. It’s sometimes tough for leaders to decide if they’ll see enough return on investment for communication efforts. However, it’s a myth that PR isn’t measurable, and your ROI will likely be very noticeable, especially to those folks who need to have a two-way conversation with your organization (rather than just being hit over the head with what you think they need to know).
It’s a lot easier to keep yourself out of a mess to begin with than it is to dig yourself out of a crater of an image. So give a PR practitioner a seat at the table in your organization today, and you’ll have a head start!
Still need some persuading? Check out the Business Case for Public Relations site for more information, including case studies, information for CEOs and more!