Breaking the Mold: Unconventional Approaches to Climate Tech PR Campaigns

Sometimes it seems like certain topics don’t lend themselves to breaking the mold or unconventional approaches. Such was the case when I went to go hear a talk recently by Ronald Leopold, executive director of the Anne Frank House. You all probably know of Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl whose diary documents her family’s experience hiding in Amsterdam for 2 years during the Nazi occupation, and who ultimately died in a concentration camp at age 16.  Leopold’s challenge these days? Finding innovative ways to keep Anne’s memory and legacy of tolerance alive for Gen Z. How do you break through to a demographic with a shorter attention span and less generational knowledge? And how does this apply to climate tech?

Redefining a legacy in Gen Z terms

In the case of Anne Frank and the Gen Z demographic, Leopold and the board had to embrace how Gen Z is getting its information. While previously the organization used generational knowledge of Anne, along with books and education sessions in schools, Gen Z was the first group to grow up without a parent or grandparent alive during the war. The generational knowledge was no longer there. Moreover, it was the first generation to grow up with the internet and social media. 

The Anne Frank House had to come up with a plan based on the characteristics of Gen Z: they have always relied  on the internet, have shorter attention spans, are highly visual, they value diversity, and are more inclined to form unique identities. The nonprofit ultimately came up with a strategic plan that now complements its traditional approach, incorporating Tik Tok videos, highly visual social media posts, more focus on tolerance, equity, and inclusion, and even posts on Anne’s sexuality. The thinking is that if they can attract a young person’s attention through just one single facet, even if not part of the “typical” Anne Frank narrative, this might spur these highly identity-focused individuals to learn more.

Lessons from the Anne Frank House for Climate Tech

Climate tech is not unlike the Anne Frank campaign. The problem of climate change is a serious challenge, with our own survivability as the ultimate question and hoped-for ending. Yet we can’t descend into constant red alerts and alarmism to bring attention to solutions. What’s the best approach?

It may seem a stretch, but like the AFH challenge we must use PR and communications to reach existing audiences and future audiences to assure long-term interest and engagement. During a retreat I participated in some years ago, employees were encouraged to write down on post-it notes all ideas for the future of the company, to be stuck to a giant white board and later categorized. There were to be no sacred cows, every kind of suggestion was welcome. Some people proposed highly radical shifts in the core business mission, which turned into productive discussions.

We can do the same in our communications approaches to climate tech. No sacred cows. What about humor? What about empathy, what about anger? What news angle or  emotion should we appeal to for each of our key audiences? Some of you may have seen Apple’s Mother Nature ad with Octavia Spencer playing the title role, which received 36 thousand likes on Apple’s Youtube channel alone. Besides the direct likes, the ad spawned countless parodies – not always friendly, but that motivated viewers to go back and look at the original. Not a bad approach.

How we can deploy similar thinking for PR

In PR, can we achieve the same effect? Of course.  It’s not apples to apples, but in addition to standard PR tactics from news releases to speaking opportunities, we can stage creative events at conferences. We can set up and promote provocative panel discussions. We can write edgy or humorous executive viewpoints. We can film engaging behind-the-scenes videos that can create chemistry on social media. 

Reporters and editors are hungry for good content, so simply trying a new tool to break the mold isn’t going to help unless you provide a full context for them, and make it easier for them to connect the dots. Our mission in the PR community should be above all to add value – but we can do it in a creative way.

Here at Blue Practice, we have focused solely on positive climate and sustainability solutions for more than a decade, and we know what plays with each of our target audiences, from business and tech publications to energy verticals.  But on top of that we stay abreast of trends, and place a high priority on testing new approaches to break through the PR noise. We bring the benefits of those tests to our clients. We look forward to brainstorming what we can do with you. Feel free to reach out to us for a chat. We are happy to suggest ideas. 

Measuring Success: Quantifying the Impact of Creative Thinking in Public Relations

Quantifying the impact of creative thinking in public relations is notoriously tricky. Creativity is a cornerstone of effective public relations strategies, weaving trending topics, brand MYTHOS, and media essentials into compelling narratives. It’s the engine driving your PR agency’s relationship, allowing professionals to develop connections and craft stories that surprise and captivate. But measuring creativity? Some would say impossible. But we’re not just creative storytellers, we love facts and figures. We can measure anything. Even the most inventive campaigns have metrics.

In this post, we dive into measuring the success of messaging work and creative storytelling in PR. Read on to learn more, and reach out to us to get started on telling your story.

Measuring the Success of Creative Messaging through Resonance

Working with Blue Practice means diving into “messaging sessions” in month one. Conversations with innovators and thought leaders on your team help us understand your business, challenges, and desired media perception. Armed with this info, we create taglines, messaging hierarchies, and positioning statements. But how can the success of a few statements be measured?

With resonance.

Once media coverage kicks in, we track how the media’s perception changes and whether our messages resonate. We did this work with veritree, working closely with their team to develop a unified language that defined their mission, and the media responded consistently. With the help of our unified positioning language and the high resonance of our messaging work, veritree was able to build trust with the media and build more awareness and credibility for their work.

Measuring the Success of Creative Storytelling

Success in creative storytelling can be measured even before the pitching process begins. Early measurements act as a litmus test, ensuring narratives are not just compelling but strategically aligned.

Starting the measurement process before pitching enables a proactive approach to refining and iterating on messaging during the pitching process.  Here are a few ways to measure success before pitching even begins:

Ways to Measure Success Even Before You Start Pitching

  • Team excitement sets the stage for a positive tone for the campaign. If you’re excited, the media is more likely to be as well.
  • Verifiable data points weaved seamlessly into the pitch is already a win. Data adds credibility and is practically a non-negotiable in today’s media landscape.
  • Novel angles on relevant topics offer a fresh perspective that can serve as a reason for a writer to publish a follow up to a recent story.
  • Context in the broader landscape provides depth and relevance.
  • Giving writers a reason to cover your story now ensures its timely impact.

When There Hasn’t Been Media Coverage Yet

Measuring success isn’t confined to headlines; it starts earlier. Preliminary indicators (listed below) can provide valuable insights into the potential success of your narrative, becoming crucial metrics that offer a proactive way to gauge the resonance of your story before it goes live. A few ways to measure success before stories are published:

  1. Response and Interest from Journalists
    In the pre-publication phase, gauging the response and interest from journalists is a good indicator of the narrative’s potential success. Positive responses indicate an alignment between the story and the media’s interests and signify its newsworthiness. If positive responses aren’t rolling in after some follow-up, it may be time to tweak the pitch, add additional context or data, or consider a different time peg. All of this information is key in building media coverage.
  2. Follow-Up Questions from Media
    An equally telling metric in the early stages is the nature of follow-up questions received from the media. Thoughtful inquiries indicate a deeper interest in your story and demonstrate a journalist’s intent to delve into the details. These questions are not just inquiries; they are hints that can lead to a deeper understanding of what aspects of your narrative resonate most. By paying attention to these questions, you can refine your storytelling strategy and address potential gaps, ensuring your narrative is not only captivating but also aligns well with the media’s interests.
  3. Stories Published Around the Same Topics
    Observe whether stories around similar topics are gaining traction in the media. This can indicate that there is a curious audience for content related to your news, validating its relevance and potential impact. Analyzing the media landscape for similar themes provides valuable context and positions your story within a broader conversation. It not only showcases a demand for the content you’re crafting but also indicates that the narrative aligns with current trends and interests, setting the stage for successful media outreach.

Measuring Once Coverage Rolls In

Once the media hits have started rolling in, it’s crucial to pinpoint and analyze key performance indicators (KPIs) that illustrate the impact of the campaign. These metrics help paint a picture of the success of the campaign – from messaging resonance to the number of stories published about the company.

KPIs and Why They Matter:

  • Number of Stories Published:
    Beyond mere quantity, the number of stories published provides a gauge of the campaign’s reach and distribution. It signifies how widely the narrative has been embraced by the media, offering insights into its potential visibility and influence.
  • Type of Outlets that Covered the News:
    Distinguishing between industry-specific and mainstream outlets, as well as niche versus A-tier publications, informs strategic adjustments for future pitching efforts and helps us ensure alignment with the topics of coverage in target outlets.
  • Audience Resonance (Did We Reach the Intended Outlets?):
    Assessing whether the campaign reached our desired outlets offers valuable insights into the accuracy of messaging positioning statements and indicates whether they resonated as intended with the target audiences.
  • Impressions/Reach:
    While not a definitive measure of actual readership, impressions and reach provide an overview of the potential influence a publication holds. Understanding the levels of reach is crucial within the context of the campaign, guiding strategic decisions based on the perceived impact of different outlets.
  • Messaging Resonance (Were Our Positioning Statements Utilized?):
    Evaluating whether the stories positioned the company as intended is vital in gauging the success of the messaging strategy. This KPI offers a broader-scale perspective post-publication, allowing us to ascertain whether our positioning statements were effectively integrated into the media narrative.

In the world of public relations, success is a journey, with lots of opportunities for measuring success along the way. From crafting resonant messaging to measuring impact, the creative process is both art and science. Are you looking for help telling your story? Reach out to chat with us!

Cleantech Storytelling & The Harmony of Mythos

Companies in the mission-driven business of sustainability and climate solutions need great storytelling to cultivate the compelling “why” consumers should go along on their brand journey. While many focus on data and technology as the basis of their story, there’s an often-overlooked creative facet that’s equally critical—the mythos in storytelling.

Mythos was called out in Aristotle’s Poetics as the “arrangement of incidents” in a story. It’s the weaving of a narrative so that it resonates with your audience. According to Aristotle, it’s not enough to have a groundbreaking product or a revolutionary idea. The way you tell your story, or how you blend together its LOGOS (Logic) with ETHOS (Credibility) and PATHOS (Emotion), is the formula for composing a compelling story.

You might see these ingredients in the following examples:

Examples: Tesla, Patagonia, the Ocean Cleanup

  • LOGOS – Tesla favors how logical, efficient, high-performance approach can drive its brand story. Their approach to electric vehicles is about offering a smart alternative that can outperform traditional cars. This logical appeal resonates with consumers who value both sustainability and innovation.
  • ETHOS – Patagonia is a brand synonymous with environmental responsibility. Their commitment goes beyond products; it’s about a corporate ethos that champions sustainability. This credibility resonates with consumers who seek brands that align with their values.
  • PATHOS – The Ocean Cleanup taps into PATHOS, pulling at heartstrings with the visual and emotional impact of ocean pollution. Their mission connects emotionally, drawing support from those moved to protect our oceans.

The real magic happens when these elements blend into a cohesive MYTHOS. You do that by creating a narrative that’s not just logical or credible but also emotionally engaging.

The Mythos in IKEA’s work in sustainability

We can see the interplay of these three narrative ingredients in IKEA’s work in sustainability. LOGOS is evident in IKEA’s practical, affordable, and innovative designs, appealing to the logic of consumers seeking functionality and value. ETHOS shines through their extensive sustainability initiatives, like sourcing eco-friendly materials and aiming for 100% renewable energy use, establishing them as a credible leader in environmental stewardship.

However, it’s the PATHOS where IKEA’s mythos truly comes to life. They don’t just sell furniture; they sell the dream of a better, more sustainable everyday life. Their narrative is about creating a cozy, welcoming home that also cares for the planet. This emotional connection speaks to those who want to make eco-friendly choices without compromising on style or comfort.

IKEA’s story resonates because it’s not just about furniture; it’s about being part of a global movement towards sustainability, offering a sense of belonging and purpose to customers. This cohesive blend of logic, credibility, and emotional appeal positions IKEA as a brand that understands its audience’s desires for a sustainable, yet aesthetically pleasing, lifestyle.

Connecting to that emotion is about understanding the audience’s values, desires, and fears. It should be a story that people can see themselves in, a story that inspires and motivates.

It Matters How You Tell It

Companies navigating a landscape of innovation and sustainability shouldn’t look over the power of storytelling and the art of mythos. It’s not just about the technology or the data; it’s about how you weave these elements into a narrative that captures the imagination and inspires action. It’s not just about what you’re doing; it’s about how you tell your story. Get in touch with us to develop your mythos.

An Unusual PR Request Leads to American Policy Change

We found ourselves at the epicenter of a crucial battle for intellectual property (IP) security with our client Forever Energy. This early-stage US company, specializing in revolutionary long-life batteries for solar+storage, approached Blue Practice when their access to strategic US technology and manufacturing, developed by a DOE lab at taxpayer expense, was being usurped and diverted to China by a competitor who held exclusive rights to the American technology license. 

The situation was unique. Forever Energy didn’t need attention drawn to themselves but rather needed to create a sense of urgency and alarm so that this US-developed IP could go to deserving US companies who could manufacture and sell it in the US – the purpose for which the DOE Labs were created. 

We understood the gravity of the situation immediately. The challenge was not just to protect a US innovation, but to push this alarming story into the media to pressure the DOE to enforce the licensing restrictions on its technology, notably “substantial manufacturing in the US” and meeting a minimum sales requirement over several years. Our goal was to create a wave of public pressure to support the cause of Forever Energy and to raise questions about why our tax-supported US Energy Labs were licensing innovations to foreign interests, potentially losing commercialization opportunities for US-backed innovation.

Strategically, we embarked on a media campaign to highlight these issues, targeting high-level publications like the Washington Post, NPR, as well as local newspapers in the vicinity of the DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Labs. We crafted a narrative focused on the urgency of securing our energy supply chain and the questionable actions of PNNL in licensing IP to foreign interests.

Our efforts bore fruit, and in August of 2022 NPR investigative reporter Laura Sullivan broke the story, to the dismay of the DOE. The NPR story was picked up and echoed by others including E&E News, creating a compelling narrative around the actions of PNNL and the historic ways in which policymakers at our labs have allowed the US to lose commercialization opportunities for homegrown innovations. The public pressure, heightened media attention, and resulting governmental uproar, including  a scathing letter to DOE from the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources – played a pivotal role in the DOE making significant changes to its licensing enforcement policies. Laura Sullivan wrote a follow-on piece in January 2023 discussing the report and the changes DOE made.

The story highlighted the importance of securing IP for innovative US companies ready for market, and was significant win for Forever Energy, which thereafter was able to fairly compete for a license. 

Our engagement with Forever Energy went beyond promoting their brand; it aimed to safeguard vital intellectual property and challenge the status quo of technology licensing in the United States. By strategically leveraging the media, we not only raised awareness about the situation but also ignited a public outcry and compelled governmental action. This work with Forever Energy showcases the transformative power of public relations beyond traditional brand awareness; it illustrates how PR can be a formidable tool in addressing complex issues that extend beyond individual companies and impact national interests.

Selected Coverage: 

E&E News :DOE: Lax oversight pushed taxpayer-funded battery tech to China

NPR: The U.S. made a breakthrough battery discovery — then gave the technology to China (Original NPR Story)

What’s the Right Media Strategy for Climate Solutions Companies? 3 Tips to Help you Optimize

So here’s the good news. Despite an increasing number of media sites and publications shuttering their doors, the remaining media are bulking up their climate desks. And as I mentioned back in July these climate reporters are beginning to move from the disaster scenarios to a solutions focus. 

In fact, many of them have to write about new solutions each day: if you’re at Bloomberg Green, Reuters Sustainability, The Washington Post, or New York Times, or BBC, you need a major funnel of stories. This is not to say these editors don’t get hundreds of emails each day to choose from. But what they don’t get is value add. 

Here are some tips that can make you stand out from the flood of press releases they see. Over time these can help you enhance your relationship with the editor so that when they see an email from you they know it won’t be a waste of time. All these tips can help you increase your credibility with news organizations.

Tip 1: Help them connect the dots

Why should they be interested in a climate tech innovation if there is no context? Look, your company is the expert in your field. And in the constantly shifting landscape of everything from renewables to carbon capture and changing regulations, you’re the one who has done the SWOT analysis, knows the competition, and sees where the industry is going. Use your pitch to the editors to show them the industry roadmap, and give them clear reasons why this is important. This also sets you up as an industry authority, and even if the editor can’t do the story right now they may come back to you because they have a round-up piece and want your comment.

Tip 2: No company news? Comb the headlines for trends and “hooks” to comment on

Obviously, you can’t pump out a product or get funding every two weeks. But you need to stay on the media radar screen. This is where you need a bit of guerilla marketing. Enter a search term in Google that reflects your company’s business or your company’s challenge. If you’re a battery company, how about “new energy regulation and residential battery sales”? Click on the news button to see what kind of coverage has been appearing. Hmm, a lot of pieces on how homeowners are trying to avoid having utilities suck up all the home-generated solar power without paying much for it. Craft an engaging – or maybe even a contrarian – statement from your CEO and send this out to your media list. 

Tip 3: It’s a wide-open field. Become the resource with an e-book

Nobody knows where this industry is going – it’s too young. But you have ideas. You’ve been homing in on social media to build your B2B presence. You have nearly 20 blog posts. Bingo. Time for repackaging. Organize the blog posts into relevant thematic sections, maybe flesh them out a bit or add a couple new ones. Add a table of contents, try to optimize it for SEO. Voila. An e-book that you can announce. In your announcement pitch, lead with the salient facts or observations to draw the journalist in. Or add it to your signature as a reference point when you pitch other angles.

Of course, if you’re at a start-up you don’t always have time to do the research. That’s where an effective agency can help you get off the ground and into the media. Here at Blue Practice, our ability to leverage climate tech market knowledge from across our entire client base allows us to quickly see the connections ourselves and bring ideas to our clients. We can then embark on the core work of media relations, whether it’s drafting pitches, writing thought leadership articles, or helping you with your e-book. Get in touch, we look forward to starting with you.