Getting Media Coverage in Cleantech and other Exploding Sectors

[Editor's Note: This essay uses the cleantech sector as an example. Its takeaways apply to many sectors.]

Despite shaky capital markets and a seemingly overnight reduction in private-tech startups’ value, the cleantech/renewable energy/sustainability sector is thriving. Each week we read about another alternative fuel, carbon-neutral projects and some of the world’s largest governments and businesses investing in related endeavors.

Yet all this good news means some cleantech brands and their PR teams struggle for media coverage in the mainstream press and trades.

By contrast, not long ago companies with a good cleantech PR firm could make news with joint ventures, a modest seed round and R&D phase/prototype technologies.

Now, journalists and their audiences insist coverage feature project installations, commercially-ready technology and, of course, significant funding from prominent backers.

PR pros in many sectors can identify with this dilemma.

So, how does a cleantech company with legit news make a splash in this noisy media environment? A few simple tips can prompt success. Again, these work in other sectors too.

Timing’s importance

Inside a company, many announcements seem press-worthy and awesome. It’s easy to expect that everything will fall into place, i.e. investors and partners will provide quotes, local government will participate, etc.

The reality is announcements often are delayed. Partners/investors don’t cooperate fast enough and the claims a company thinks it can make are reduced.

For these reasons, work on your messaging (and a press release) with partners early, well before engaging reporters.

Journalists are busy too

Give reporters filing breaks. A good PR firm or in-house communication pro knows reporters need time to write.

In today’s cleantech media climate, with few experienced journalists and a high volume of news, planning ahead is critical. A press release sent days or even a week before a scheduled announcement usually isn’t enough time for busy reporters.

Instead, consider sending the release, even a not-yet-final version or an abstract, to journalists well ahead of the announcement using an embargo or exclusive agreement. Journalists likely will appreciate your thoughtful consideration of their time, leading to future relationship building.

Deliver quality assets

Nothing screams we are not a sophisticated brand or company! louder than low-quality multimedia or none at all. Make sure you have high-resolution images of technology or process, as well as corporate logos and headshots.

If the company is breaking news about a future project, make sure high-quality renderings or other visuals that clearly reflect the vision for the installation are ready.

When possible, short videos that depict how something works or that showcase the process for developing a project also are highly recommended. Whichever route you take, make sure multimedia assets are of high-enough quality to appear on the home page of tech sites or in a daily or national newspaper.

Broaden your scope

I know, I know. The cleantech company you represent wants features only. In addition, the feature should tout the company’s long-term market opportunity and potential, positioning it for future capital events. I get it!

Yet reality is that sometimes a corporate milestone/announcement actually is better served within a broader article about the industry. This sort of coverage lets a reader/viewer/listener understand a company’s role within the larger cleantech ecosystem, society and global economy.

Highlight supportive messaging such as how certain technologies/projects/capital indicate a market trend. Mention how the trend influences individual households or serves as an alternative to another already-high-growth product category.

A cleantech brand, any brand really, is well-served when demonstrating the big-picture impact of its news. This emphasis can result in coverage beyond the corporate-specific announcement, as journalists mention the item as part of other stories. In addition, it can create fruitful relationships with journalists who see your pitch as less promotional and more trend-oriented.

Clean technology, renewable energy and sustainable projects and companies are breaking major news daily. Most are doing so strategically. A company’s next breakthrough could indeed be part of the shift to renewables from fossil fuels.

Give this news the attention it deserves. Tell a clear story and work with journalists to give them the best chance to share it in an impactful way.

Eric Fischgrund is founder and CEO of FischTank PR

[Editor's Note: The writer’s views do not necessarily reflect those of PRNEWS. We invite opposing essays from readers.]