Getting your company placed in the American media. Solar Power International 2018 (SPI)
Aside from Intersolar Europe in Munich, the United States’ Solar Power International (SPI) is one of the world’s most important trade shows for the solar industry. This year was particularly interesting due to the focus on tariff discussions in the U.S. Representing several global solar companies, DWR eco worked closely with trade media prior to and during SPI to get our clients positioned in the outlets that matter most to growing their U.S. business. So, what’s the secret to getting placed? In order to get your company placed in the media of the world’s largest economy, it is important to engage with journalists on topics that they are most interested in writing about. Which begs the question…
What is of interest to U.S. trade media?
- Tariffs. Unsurprisingly, hot topics that are of greatest interest to U.S. journalists right now are policy-related. Every journalist at the show wanted to know how companies were being impacted by the tariffs of the Trump administration. Section 201, introduced in January, tagged a 30% year-one tariff on imported cells and modules. Of greater discussion at the show was the more recent Section 301 which subjects Chinese products to a 25% tariff. Are tariffs impacting your business’ bottom line? This could be a great opportunity to raise the issue to the media. Of course, carefully crafted messages are crucial to successfully position your company around this topic.
- Local Political Action.With an administration that has been unfriendly to solar, a key trend in the U.S. is local action. Municipalities and states are taking matters into their own hands, with a localized approach to continue the fight against climate change. Several cities have adopted 100% renewable energy action plans, and the State of California passed a bill, SB100, which was signed into effect by Governor Brown on September 10, 2018. Beyond this, the state of California is requiring all new construction homes to be developed with solar panels. Taking localized strategic action, working with industry associations such as SEIA or grassroots community groups, is a great way to demonstrate leadership and position your company or organization in the media.
- Innovation. What is cutting-edge, interesting, or unique about your company? Journalists want to publish edgy and interesting content. If your company has a process or product feature that is different from other companies, you want to highlight this with the press to showcase that your story stands out from the rest. This is the great way to achieve a feature story with the trade media, such as this one about REC Group’s hand washed wafers that came out of DWR eco’s SPI efforts.
- On the Grid.The solar energy industry has come a long way, and there are signs that the adversarial relationship between the utilities and solar companies has somewhat simmered. Utility scale solar farms are now cost competitive with traditional fossil fuel plants, and the technology has become recognized as a reliable investment. Now that the industry has matured, the next great emergence for the industry is “Solar 3.0” and this is a topic that is of interest across the industry and media alike. The mass expansion of solar generation creates still unanswered questions surrounding grid stability, infrastructure, and transformation to the top of higher-level discussions. Storage will play a huge role in worldwide adoption of solar energy; this industry too is on its way to maturing and many solar companies are offering solar+storage solutions. Aligning your company with these topics of discussion is a great way to showcase thought leadership.
While there are many hot topics that will generate interest for your company by the press, the crucial element to generating news coverage for your organization is proper positioning and message development. A strategic communications plan ensures that your company is appropriately aligned with what’s of greatest interest, while only speaking on the topics that will showcase your brand favorably.