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A Hyper-Local Approach to Energy and Equity

Overview

The Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) was created in 2006 to improve the American public’s understanding of the sustainability of oil and gas, with regards to innovation, environmental impact and our country’s energy security. In the years since, the organization has emphasized the need for energy policies that amplify the power of both oil and natural gas as well as solar and wind power, to reduce costs for the energy consumer.

Challenge

The organization engaged Proof Strategies to increase the visibility of its mission, key messages, and spokespeople in targeted media markets. We began our work as CEA’s agency partner with a comprehensive discovery phase to better understand the organization, its mission, operational areas, and strategic business goals to effectively engage media stakeholders and write stories that would increase their understanding of energy options.

Approach

The Proof Strategies team deployed the following tactics to deepen our industry knowledge and identify strategic opportunities:

  • Analyses of competitor organizations and the media landscape in the environmental and sustainability sectors;
  • Media stakeholder mapping;
  • Coverage monitoring;
  • Key message development, testing, and refinement;
  • Target audience identification and segmentation based on local policy focus; and 
  • Administration of collaborative brainstorm and research sessions with leadership and client vendors

We discovered that a modified message approach in targeted geographic areas would be the key to a successful strategy. The organization’s complex concepts would need to be adjusted in order to be more digestible to the everyday newsreader, and more accessible to local policymakers. This approach was informed by our team’s key message testing, and analyses of the environmental policy activity and media landscapes in CEA’s target states including Michigan, New Jersey, California, and North Carolina, among others.

Strategy

The insights from the discovery phase, paired with our team’s earned media expertise, allowed us to collaboratively develop strategic solutions to ensure that CEA’s message resonated with its key audiences. During the planning phase of our engagement, our team determined the strategy’s goals and desired actions of the target audiences.

The objectives of the strategy were to:

  • Amplify energy development opportunities and benefits among audiences across the nation in local community media outlets and periodicals,
  • Inform policymakers of the importance of energy cost efficiencies through published op-eds, letters to the editor and other earned opportunities showcasing CEA executive thought leadership, and
  • Elevate CEA’s brand and mission as the lead convener of environmental stakeholders in all sectors of energy including natural gas producers, wind farms, and pipeline developers to improve and maintain energy security

Upon finalizing the objectives, our team then developed the strategy’s core assets and background materials, including organizational key messages, spokesperson preparation materials, customized media pitches, and target media lists for each policy or local energy issue.

The aggressive and comprehensive earned media strategy prioritized the placement of opinion pieces – one of the most popular sections of any publication – and securing radio and print interviews to elevate the profiles of CEA leadership and educate consumers about energy developments impacting their communities.

In our narrative, we articulated why it is essential to bring everyone – from natural gas producers to wind farms – to the table to advocate for common-sense solutions that avoid placing a financial burden on vulnerable communities, families, and small businesses. We scanned existing media coverage in several markets and strategically inserted CEA experts into existing conversations in the media.

Results

In five months, (between September 2019 and January 2020) Proof generated approximately 100 earned media placements, averaging 20 mentions per month, for the Consumer Energy Alliance, amounting to more than 80 million impressions. Opinion pieces authored by CEA’s executive leaders were mentioned in national outlets like POLITICO; trade publications such as the Morning Consult; and several regional media including  The Charlotte Observer, The Columbus Dispatch, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and the Albuquerque Journal, among others.

In addition, our team developed relationships with key energy reporters from the Associated Press, USA Today, and Bloomberg.

The strategy’s hyper-local approach ensured that consumers and key stakeholders were reached with messages that spoke to the heart of the issue – energy costs money, and money is a finite resource. Using both renewable and fossil fuels, until a 100% renewable becomes available, is a necessary burden. 

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