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Proven Practices: Engage Media to Garner Credibility

Posted on December 12, 2016

Paid advertising is one way to promote residential energy efficiency program offerings, but good public relations that leads to “earned” media stories is even better. Successful programs have found that earned media attention can add credibility to marketing efforts and expand their reach. One strategy is to tell interesting home improvement stories on local television or radio stations. Some programs have held visually oriented press events to show consumers the benefits of a home energy upgrade. Making content timely also helps generate interest in program offerings, such as a story about how to weatherize or upgrade homes in the winter, and offering expertise builds your program’s credibility with the media.

Television coverage may not generate immediate leads, but it can increase program recognition and lay the groundwork for future leads. Following are a few examples of how programs used earned media coverage to garner attention and credibility.

Mark Major Milestones to Spur Momentum

Media outlets often cover stories about topics that break thresholds or programs that are the first or biggest of their kind. For example, the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance (GCEA) in Ohio used the milestone of its 1,000th energy upgrade as the basis for a press conference in 2012. In addition to attracting local newspaper and television coverage for the program and its satisfied customers, GCEA promoted the reduction in energy costs for consumers across the Cincinnati area. The program’s momentum kept going; by the end of 2015, GCEA had nearly double the number of homes upgraded to 1,962 and saved clients $1.8 million in energy bills.

Keep Content Fresh and Relevant

The Solar and Energy Loan Fund (SELF) in St. Lucie County, Florida, continuously refreshed its messages to media in a way that promoted individuals and groups that benefitted from the program. SELF initially highlighted its first Community Reinvestment Act loan and the county’s first property assessed clean energy (PACE) program. As the program matured, it promoted more human interest news, including its 200th client and stories about how its customers and affiliated contractors benefitted from energy upgrades. By stressing that the successes SELF achieved affected the community as a whole, the program was able to keep local media engaged over time.

Offer an Expert on Energy Efficiency

A senior technical advisor at Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) in Charlottesville, Virginia, became known as the “House Doctor” for his weekly radio show, home improvement advice at events, and a blog written to address recurring issues for contractors and homeowners. The program leveraged the House Doctor’s years of experience and knowledge to add credibility and human interest to LEAP’s outreach efforts. LEAP found that when potential customers learned about the benefits of an energy efficiency upgrade directly from a neutral expert, they were more likely to choose to upgrade their homes through the program.

Tell Me More 

Discover more insights on earning media attention by visiting the Marketing & Outreach – Communicate Impacts handbook for step-by-step instructions and program examples.

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Your Input Counts

If you would like to suggest a proven practice that worked for your program or ask a question that other programs might be able to answer, email your question or idea and we’ll address it in an upcoming Proven Practices post.

Continue the Media Engagement Conversation

Interested in talking with your peers about earned media and other proven practices? Consider joining the Better Buildings Residential Network, where energy efficiency program administrators like you are discussing program design, implementation, and evaluation strategies in regularly scheduled peer calls and on virtual discussion forums. Join the Residential Network.  

Posted Date: 
Monday, December 12, 2016