How can anti-industry media sentiment be turned around?
It’s not often that a business community gets the opportunity to enjoy the kind of commercial potential that the renewable energy industry has seen in recent years. Significant technological developments, rapid industry growth, supply chain optimisation, consistent feats of engineering genius – some would say it’s a B2B marketer’s dream industry. But despite this success, the industry’s achievements have often been clouded by negative publicity making it difficult to secure on-going political, investor and social acceptance.
To determine just what the industry’s marketers are up against, we conducted a piece of research investigating exactly how bad the state of play is when it comes to renewables reporting.
Our study How the UK national media treats renewables, found that media sentiment towards renewables is broadly negative and neglects the sector’s voice. In fact, the study found that more than 50 per cent of national newspaper articles portrayed the industry in a negative light with only 21 per cent providing positive coverage. Furthermore, despite the green economy accounting for over a third of UK growth in the last year, only ten per cent of articles quoted an industry spokesperson. This presents a number of concerns for businesses and marketers in the renewables industry but also holds important learning points for marketers in industries facing similar publicity battles.
Media reporting has a very real bearing on day to day business success. On a macro level, negative reporting with and a lack of industry voice threatens the wider public and stakeholder support for an industry, fueling investment insecurity and impacting future industry development.
On a micro level, the uncertainty this type or reporting creates slows the market and impacts the business bottom line across supply chains, diminishing both margins and new business opportunities.
Whilst there is no one size fits all approach, there are a number of lessons that B2B marketers can apply to tackle communication challenges of this size and use it to position their business as an industry leader:
- Become a teller of positive tales: Businesses need to tune in to talking and telling stories to increase the visibility of positive news and facts in the media. From project wins and job growth through to investment and community benefits, positive news is essential to broadening the media conversation
- Good, reliable content: Some media are more inclined than others to negatively portray progressive industries, but they need a hand. Good, reliable content is crucial to equipping journalists with the facts and providing a clear, comprehensive understanding of your business and industry
- Select a single conductor: Although many voices are important, one credible and confident party should be selected to lead industry communication efforts. Businesses should rally around this party to support and amplify its voice in a mutually beneficial way
- Be a good citizen… : Demonstrate the positive societal impacts and potential of your business and industry – in both developing and developed markets
- …and an evil competitor: Seize opportunities to ruthlessly point out the limitations and dangers of competing approaches
As much as many businesses facing this type of communications battle would like to blame the media, it is essential not to fall into this trap. All too often negative reporting is the result of an information deficit. Marketers must get out of their chairs and invest time and resources into developing and executing proactive activity anchored on quality content and positive storytelling. This is a reality that the renewables industry is quickly being forced to come to terms with and those businesses that step forward to fill the platform will be the ones to see the rewards.