How can you build a successful public relations strategy as a sustainability or climate tech business?
As an award-winning agency specializing in climate tech and sustainability, we know that even a few years ago, “climate risk” and “green business” were uncommon phrases. That’s changed.
The sustainability media and PR niche is small but mighty, and it’s growing every day. That gives sustainability companies a unique opportunity to establish their companies with the press, and position themselves as valuable voices for the public.
Climate Risk: It’s a Small World
The conversation around climate tech and sustainability is ongoing, and it seems more voices chime in every day. But as a corporate niche and media sphere, this is still a small world. Reporters and publications in the sustainability niche talk to each other. As in any small world, your reputation is paramount.
It seems obvious, but it’s worth repeating: journalists are busy people on deadlines. Be respectful of their time and coverage needs. Word spreads quickly about companies and spokespeople who badger. You don’t want to get blacklisted from a journalist’s inbox, or be the company nobody wants to talk to.
But by virtue of climate tech being a small (but rapidly growing!) media niche, you have the opportunity to establish your brand, get to know the journalists who cover climate tech and sustainability, and participate in the conversation in ways that benefit your company.
Reach for Low-Hanging Fruit
Although you should research and target sustainability reporters at large publications, pay special attention to smaller publications and blogs covering the sustainability and climate tech niche. Everyone dreams of coverage in The New York Times and Forbes, but those reporters have an endless array of companies and experts vying for their attention.
You’re more likely (though never guaranteed) to get your company coverage at a smaller publication that exclusively covers your niche. The publications that cover the sustainability sphere in-depth are more likely to be interested in your industry news and insights.
Nurture Relationships with Reporters in Your Niche
As a sustainability company, your biggest PR assets are the relationships you cultivate with reporters and publications. Aim for establishing your spokesperson as a qualified, helpful source, and getting journalists you respect familiar with your company.
Take time to get to know reporter beats. What stories do they write about most? Compile a list of sustainability reporters who may be interested in your company and target them with personalized outreach when you have a press release ready to go out.
Can I Comment? Joining the Conversation is a PR Strategy
Sustainability is an ongoing conversation and a hot-button media topic. Establishing your company’s voice as a credentialed authority should be a pillar of any sustainability company’s PR strategy.
Commenting on and sharing news stories on social media is a great place to start. At Benecomms, we favor LinkedIn and Twitter for news commentary. If you’re looking to develop a LinkedIn strategy, click through to our award-winning tips.
Beyond social media, commenting on industry news and sustainability legislation makes for ideal press coverage. Comb HARO and Qwoted for opportunities to offer quotes to reporters on breaking sustainability news. If you’re in the US, govtrack.us is a helpful tool for tracking sustainability and climate change legislation.
Sustainability news also makes for excellent long-form commentary. For an example, check out Benecomms’ President Helen Bertelli’s article in response to Biden’s executive order on climate risk disclosure.
As an expert on sustainability, your voice is valuable. Cultivating a backlog of press and open-source content showcasing your expertise is what public relations is all about.
And the Award Goes To…
Here at Benecomms, we’re passionate about applying for awards for our clients. Awards credential your company to the press, boost your reputation, and can even act as good industry news for press releases. Energy, sustainability and climate risk awards are offered year-round.
Here are just a few energy and sustainability awards to consider.
- Green Concept Award
- Grist 50
- SEAL Business Sustainability Awards
- ENERGY STAR® Awards
- Edie Sustainability Leaders Awards
- Energy Globe Awards
Eyes on the PR Prize: Playing the Long Game
Your climate tech or sustainability company’s public relations strategy is a marathon, not a sprint. Although an article about your latest news or a quote in a media story is the ultimate goal, it’s not the be-all and end-all of a successful PR strategy.
Be open to other measures of a successful PR campaign. Additional goals to keep in mind apart from receiving immediate press coverage include:
- Introducing journalists in the climate risk niche to your brand.
Perhaps a journalist won’t cover this particular story, but now they’re familiar with your company’s thought leadership in the climate risk space.
You’re more likely to open an email from someone you’re familiar with. Journalists are no different. If they’re familiar with your company, they’ll be more likely to open your emails and consider you for future coverage.
Press releases can act as a virtual handshake. If you send a mass release out through a platform like Cision, open rates and link clicks can act as KPIs of your campaign’s success.
- Establishing your spokesperson as a source on climate change.
Climate risk is a rapidly evolving conversation, and mainstream coverage is expanding every day. Journalists are always looking for qualified sources to comment on stories and climate risk experts are a valuable asset.
Use your press release as a conversation starter. Connecting with a journalist who then taps your perspective in future stories is a phenomenal secondary ROI in a PR campaign.
- Getting an upcoming company event on news desk assignment calendars.
If you’re looking for coverage from local TV news stations or newspapers for a company event, make the people running assignment desks your allies.
News desks maintain assignment calendars of upcoming events they consider for coverage. While getting on the calendar doesn’t guarantee coverage of your event — and your event can always get bumped for breaking news — earning a spot on the assignment desk calendar means it will be considered for coverage.
If you’re going to call an assignment desk, look up the news station’s schedule in advance, and don’t call within an hour of a news show. Ask the assignment desk personnel if it’s a good time to talk about getting an event on the assignment calendar. If it’s a bad time, say you understand, and call back later.
As a sustainability company, your public relations strategy requires patience, planning, and some mastery at cultivating respectful relationships with the press. Taking opportunities to establish your expertise in this quickly growing niche offers rich rewards. It’s a long game, but it’s well worth playing.