From arguing for security of supply, to explaining why householders’ bills are so confusing, PRs specialising in energy today are busier than ever.
But when did energy communications take off in the UK?
PR was first embraced on a big scale during the privatisations in the 1980s, when Tell Sid became a national catchword thanks to publicity surrounding the British Gas sell-off.
No sooner had the new utility companies settled into business as usual, than overseas utilities started predating. PRs found themselves delivering communications surrounding the emotive issue of foreign ownership of nationally-owned assets.
Awareness grew of diminishing North Sea gas and oil reserves, and communicators found themselves delivering one side or the other of the security of supply argument.
Campaigns launched to persuade an insecure nation that importing gas from the continent via an interconnector would give the nation reliable energy, without making the UK hostage to overseas governments seeking world domination.
Energy PRs played their part in contingency planning to mitigate against what turned out to be the non-Millennium bug, which doomsayers had declared would shut down power stations and switch off lights on the stroke of midnight at the turn of a new century.
Elsewhere, PRs were tasked with explaining the reasons to government, environmentalists and the public at large why permission must be given urgently to build new generation capacity and prevent a repeat of the three-day week of the seventies.
The nuclear debate has retained currency throughout, including heading news bulletins, search engines and front pages in recent weeks, thanks to the panics and comments surrounding the Hinckley Point rethink.
Now, PR is rising to the challenge of communicating the pros – or cons depending who we work for – of the latest renewables and green generation possibilities.
Informing stakeholders about the possibilities of ever-evolving green and carbon-neutral technologies continues to keep energy PRs sharp as we conceive campaigns using the myriad of fast-evolving on- and off-line media now at our disposal.
The best energy PR campaigns are integrating social media, bespoke online content, SEO, and even PPC alongside media relations to deliver their messages and monitor responses 24/7 in a world where everyone can be a publisher.
These are the tactics PR uses to hone and deliver arguments for and against energy from waste, fracking, and wave and tidal energy to an increasingly better-informed and sceptical modern-day public.
Whoever thought that PR would be tasked with persuading householders that the council can generate electricity from their vegetable peelings?
Or, that finally, tidal energy is actually affordable, and, because it is guaranteed, should now be embraced as a priority in the UK?
While we don’t take credit for conceiving new energy technologies, PRs are rising to the challenge in delivering effectively the arguments for or against.