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Even the most common sense energy measures can require political support, not always predictably. And recognition is good for morale. For both those reasons, it is critical to be skillful and proactive in raising the profile of the work you are doing – not only when you make the news with an event, announcement or accomplishment – but also to establish your organization as a newsmaker and trusted source.

There are many available tools and channels for doing this in a cost-effective, low-stress manner. Below are the ones we consider basic as a foundation for educating and influencing the public.

  • Website – A few pages with the group’s mission, goals and projects, contact information and meeting schedule will provide a basic portal. An events calendar adds value; a “highlights” text box on the home page that can be updated monthly shows additional signs of life. Photos are great, as are documents you have created. Putting the URL of your website in the footer that you use on email will begin to build traffic, and so will sending out announcements when significant new content is posted.
  • Signature newsletter – This is a flexible educational tool that can be created easily using MailChimp, Constant Contact or other platforms, providing you are willing to build and maintain a mailing list. Newsletters allow you to frame the story you want to tell – whether the current story is why energy upgrades are a great investment or how business leaders can access clean energy resources conveniently. Both platforms have “share” features that let you post to social media and expand your reach. They also have “analytics” -- telling you how many people have opened the newsletter and have clicked any links you provide.
  • Newspapers/ radio/ tv – Each of these media outlets have loyal audiences in the thousands or millions, and they each have gatekeepers such as reporters, editors and anchors who will get to know you as you submit news releases. With their influence and ability to shape stories before publication, reporters are an important part of your audience. The free alternative to advertising, “earned media” refers to the news coverage you earn by being newsworthy in your actions and persuasive in the story you tell. It is worth cultivating news outlets by making sure you have worthwhile stories to tell at least a few times a year, and providing background in addition to the formal press release so that the reporters are educated about the wider context of your work. Whether or not you realize it, what you are doing may well be newsworthy already!

“News hooks” in everyday activity:

If you’re getting things done or uncovering new information about energy use in your community, you are doing a mediaworthy thing. It may be considered news – events, decisions, accomplishments. Or it may be grist for a feature – a profile of a change-maker, a discussion of options, a look at trends. To educate the community on what you’re doing and why it matters, consider these questions:

What decisions has your group made and who is affected? Why does it matter?

Have your members been interviewed or given presentations?

Have your members attended conferences, trainings, workshops or award ceremonies representing the community?

What research have you done and what trends does it show?

What benefits have you earned for the community (such as clean energy points) and what benefits will they bring (such as grants or solar panels)?

  • Social media – As part of your outreach strategy, take the time to understand and articulate why, how, where and when social media matters (and when it doesn’t!). That way, you can use it both strategically and consistently. Either Facebook or LinkedIn can provide your group with a platform for sharing information, resources and events very easily in real time, building an audience, and fostering real interaction rather than the one-way communication that a newsletter brings. To use these tools effectively, you need a threshold of activity that gives you content to post (even weekly, as long as it’s regular) It’s also helpful to have a designated posting maven who is familiar with the technology and tactics (such as optimal times to post, like 3 pm on weekdays, who knew?) If tweeting is part of your local political culture – for example, if the local reporter is tweeting high points of important meetings – then it’s time to tweet. The key to sanity in the world of social media is to choose your channels, reasons and strategy for posting, and stick to those choices.
  • Word of mouth – What people say about your group creates a powerful context for public understanding of every story you put out there. Word of mouth is extremely subtle in its influence, because informal social communication is less polished and more authentic, often containing more value judgment. It’s important for your members to develop the habit of talking with their friends and associates about what is being done in the committee or task force, what’s being accomplished, and why it matters. This builds the trust of the community so that stories in the news media are more likely to be read and taken seriously.
  • Visibility in the political process – If you are an official governmental body, you probably have a formal process for reporting to town staff and elected officials. Whether or not that is the case, over-reporting is better than under-reporting. Showing up or sending notes to your City or Town Council, offering updates at meetings. If your Town or City Council meetings are televised, then a short report on your efforts during the public comment period is effectively an announcement to the community as a whole on what you are getting done. Reporting personally on progress and status of your work gives your political constituents in local government the opportunity to ask questions and to let you know any concerns they have about the direction you are taking. It gives you the opportunity to educate them on new policies or programs in development.
  • Raising profile is also a human thing. If you keep everything in type, like social media and posters, it will stay cold. Raising profile means having a human presence at every civic event and being welcoming and generous with solutions and resources. We present ideas for the whole family. I once suggested that CEFIA print out a tablecloth with the task force name, or a logo representing an alliance of task forces, and award one to every new task force. I still think it's a good idea. A table is the symbol of what we do; offer a table of energy solutions, and a place for innovative discussion. In Cornwall we do this 2-4 times a year. People know where we are, that they will have an informed discussion, and that they can move up with the next step. This has built our profile.

Resources

 

Community Updates

WOODSTOCK’S NEW 1MW SOLAR ARRAY
PROJECTED TO SAVE OVER 2.4 MILLION OVER THE NEXT TWENTY YEARS

Woodstock is currently in the process of installing their 1MW solar array.  The array will be a brownfield installation covering, what once was, their former landfill.  Concrete ballasts will weigh down the panel's framework to prevent any breach of the landfill's membrane... See Press Release

HES COPAY PRICE INCREASE

In the recent approval of the 2016-18 Conservation and Load Management (CL&M) Plan by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), there is good news and not-so-good news... Read More

 

 

Calendar Highlights

FALL GATHERING

HIGHLIGHTS OF CT’s FALL GATHERING of clean energy task forces can be found here in our Knowledge Center’s Program Archives pages. Diane Duva (the Director of Energy Demand at DEEP’s Bureau of Energy and Technology Policy is pictured here) facilitating the shaping of our state’s energy future.

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Clean Energy Communities Listening Session Letter of Thanks and Follow-up

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