Overseeing reputation and communications strategies in the middle of the largest energy transition in U.S. history is no small feat. The work can be high reward and high stress for marketing and communication teams. And with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the energy sector is set to experience an influx of new competitors, booming growth and innovation, and even more attention from the media and general public.
Coverage from energy reporters increased by 41.8% following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, compared to the previous month.
Source: Cision, measuring INK priority publications
Energy companies need to break through the noise fast and in a way that resonates. But that can be difficult when you’re juggling multiple stakeholders and audiences while evolving your strategy alongside new policies and regulations — often with a lean in-house communications staff.
So, how do energy communicators turn some of their biggest pain points into meaningful progress? Here are three places to start.
Building brand awareness across audiences? Prioritize people stories.
While much of the discussion around the energy transition focuses on technology and infrastructure, people are the drivers, and it is people who inspire progress. People are at the heart of the transition and need to be central to any energy communications strategy. Technicians maintaining solar farms, first-time electric vehicle owners, city mayors, building managers, policymakers, sustainability officers — these are the people who matter to the transition. Prioritizing the human element makes for more compelling energy stories that grow brand awareness and sentiment across multiple audiences.
Month-over-month engagement increased by 240% when energy brands jumped on trending moments like LEGO day and Not Wordle tweets.
Source: INK social listening tools
Will the same story work for every audience? Of course not. But tailoring your story and tactics to be human-centered and timely should serve as a throughline of your strategy. Then, you can layer technology, statistics, and key messages on top. Because the energy transition touches all of our lives, it’s an opportunity for energy companies to engage audiences in unexpected and creative ways.
Responding to policy shifts? Work closely with government affairs.
Though we all play a role in the energy transition, energy companies are the stars of the show. They’re seen as having the greatest impact on making it happen. This puts added pressure on energy communicators to stay ahead, navigating a highly complex, regulated, and politicized industry while remaining responsive, flexible, and proactive. So how do you wade successfully into contentious issues and remain agile?
Develop a strong collaborative relationship with your government and regulatory affairs team. Turn to these in-house teams to gather compelling data and benchmarks, develop company-wide positions, and anticipate a broader range of regulatory and policy outcomes. Working closely with government and regulatory affairs ensures you’re a step ahead, can quickly respond to media, spot trends, and move fast in the dynamic energy landscape.
Here are three example questions you should pose to government and regulatory affairs:
- How can federal and state policies better support our business objectives?
- What political sensitivities should the marketing team be aware of?
- What energy market improvements are the company backing and why?
Lean in-house team? Bring on an energy communications partner.
Every marketing and communications department wishes they had a few more helping hands. For energy companies with a lean in-house staff, there are still high expectations around building brand awareness, supporting aggressive growth goals, and managing stakeholder expectations, from investors and colleagues to local communities and customers.
In the face of rapid industry growth, it’s become incredibly difficult for one company and team to do everything. However, by leveraging an agency partnership, energy communicators can do more faster without sacrificing quality. Full-service agencies with scalable integrated communication programs are how energy companies effectively reach a diverse set of stakeholders and maintain an “always on” marketing and media strategy.
Working with an agency that’s hyper-focused on energy communications allows companies to dedicate fewer resources towards ramping up and spend more time on strategy. The shared language and industry experience between the organizations means teams can begin working toward common goals immediately.
Now is the time for energy companies to have a dedicated marketing and communications partner. The extra sets of eyes, ears, and know-how will set you up to take bold steps forward and turn pain points into action.
Turn Every Challenge on Its Head
With the energy transition now in high gear, it’s time to turn your biggest challenges into opportunities. Remember that even the best long-term strategies will need tweaking as you go, but there are tried-and-true approaches to return to when it feels messy. Let human stories support your brand-building and technical achievements. Foster strong relationships with your in-house teams to weather the ups and downs of a complex industry. And partner with energy communication experts to help you stand out from the pack.