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TickTockTech: Using Communications as a Catalyst for the Energy Transition

April 6, 2023

We’re facing a new energy economy. Whether you’re an industry wonk, a communicator keen to understand the macro environment or an energy justice warrior, chances are you have a baseline familiarity with the major global shift in how this critical resource is being supplied and consumed today. But the current volume of discussion on the energy transition can be overwhelming. With a backdrop of tech industry layoffs, factors like evolving climate risk disclosure policies and the race between legacy and startup players to lead the clean tech revolution have us at an inflection point: How does the world think about the future of energy and what is the role of technology in this sea change?

With that, there’s a huge opportunity for communications leaders to show up as true business partners, using the function as a catalyst for change.

Communications to Understand and Prioritize

If you work in the energy field, it’s easy to assume your organization’s stakeholders all understand and agree on how to meet the business opportunity. But if you’re steeped in the work day-to-day — especially if you’re working primarily with like-minded individuals — you may be living in an echo chamber. You require a deep understanding of the full spectrum of your organization’s stakeholders and their current perceptions before your can build your communications strategy:

  • What are current versus desired perceptions?
  • What kind of objection handling should you anticipate?
  • What strong third-party relationships exist and where are new ones needed?

Understanding these elements will help you craft an outcomes-driven communications program while also gaining alignment from your internal business partners on how you’ll prioritize your team’s energy and focus. A win-win. 

Communications to Drive Growth

Once you understand where your audiences sit, you can design a comms strategy to reach and influence them accordingly. Let’s imagine you support communications at a B2B company with a growing clean energy business unit with technology at its core. To drive growth, the company needs to influence CXOs at other organizations for potential collaborations. As part of your stakeholder analysis, you know that some of these C-suite leaders don’t yet know about your company’s new business unit. And, when they’ve partnered with others in the industry, it’s traditionally been with massive legacy players.

In this case, because you’ve done the foundational work to understand your audience’s true current state, your strategy will focus on awareness and trust building, rather than working from an assumption that your target audience already understands what you do and leaning into comms that differentiate. Your content and channel approach will flow from there.

Communications to Recruit

With a global market opportunity for clean energy technologies worth $650 billion by 2030, the energy transition will require the creation of new roles and skill sets. To win in a competitive market, companies will need top tech talent. But talking about stocked fridges and hackathons won’t cut it. Leveraging communications as a recruitment tool starts with understanding what is valuable to your potential candidates and acknowledging there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

Some individuals may crave in-person collaboration time and continued education opportunities while others appreciate the ability to log off around school pickup time and get back online after family dinner. If potential candidates only see messages around catered lunches and quarterly offsites, but your target employee prioritizes flexibility above all else, you’ll fall flat because you’ve failed to articulate what is truly meaningful to them. This is where audience research comes in. Once you know that the early-in-career engineer you’re looking to bring on craves a hybrid work environment and the ability to rapidly accelerate their career, you can lean into messaging and examples that bring this to life.

The clean energy transformation is one that will impact future generations in unimaginable ways. To enable this transition, it’ll be necessary to educate, influence and align a complex set of stakeholders, especially as the democratization of energy expands. By working in true partnership with the business to offer strategic, data-steeped counsel, communicators have an unprecedented opportunity to be a catalyst for one of the most significant shifts of our time.