The Ultimate Guide to Marketing and Communications for the Energy Industry

By Kendall Pope

Working in the energy industry is not always straight-forward. Controversy is never too far afield. That said, there’s no replacing the value of good writing and strong messaging, especially when topics are complex and controversial. Written communications need to be clear, interesting, and engaging. If you’re able to develop clear, engaging messaging be it to communicate a new project, a safety initiative, or your day-to-day operations, the rest of your strategy will follow.  

Start with the Audience 

Scientists, analysts, and even business development folks often get lost in the details of their research, plans, or pitches. Usually the thinking is, “If I can just present all the details, people will have all the answers they need and see why they need to invest/buy/get on board.”  This tactic, however, rarely works. 

People, even engineers and lawyers, connect with messaging that engages them as human beings. Essentially, regardless of what you’re trying to say, you should answer this question for them: What does it have to do with me?  

The first step in answering this is always to determine the audience. Some people in the energy industry will have more of a focus on customers or a general consumer. But rarely does the list stop there. Communication and marketing efforts often extend beyond the consumer realm by bringing in investors, oppositional groups (be it energy lobbyists and or environmentalist or both), employees, union groups, and other businesses.  

Each audience will have different concerns and need different information. The best way to shape and simplify your message is to figure out what your audience needs to know. If a client has encountered a more resistant group, it’s vital to generate positive discourse. For consumers, you want to craft messages that encourage them to find value in what you’re communicating. Investors will need to know how an energy venture will generate ROI. 

Tell the Story 

Regardless of who your audience is, it is important to put that audience’s needs at the center of your message and be the guide that helps them understand how your plans, products, or services will affect them. 

Very few people talk like energy experts. But energy affects everyone and appreciates the massive benefits of having energy on demand. To help tell this story, and avoid technical jargon, it’s important to focus on the end use of energy—the comfort of a warm home in the winter, a lower energy bill, a sense of pride in choosing renewable energy sources, etc.  

Be Present & Have Personality 

The status quo in energy has been to stay faceless and as absent as possible. What this has allowed is for crises to arise rather quickly and with minimal control of the conversation from the energy companies. In addition, when your audience isn’t able to see people behind the company, it makes it harder to connect with them on a human level—which is important in telling your story and helping drive the conversation.  

A more productive tactic is to give personality and voice to your company. Personality, be it on social media, in your videos, on your website, in your new releases, or any other number of communications, allows for empathy. Empathy for your business and its workings, but it also adds true empathy to your responses during troubling times.  

Say you work for an electric utility company. When the power is out, your customers will want to know why. If there is no communication about why, anger and annoyance is never far behind. If, however, you are communicating the cause of the outage, and it turns out it was due to a motor vehicle accident, your customers become much more understanding. The exchange becomes more human than if you would have remained absent.   

Personality in your communications offer a more long-term trust building experience with your audience. Say you work for a solar company. Most people do not realize the amount of work that should be done prior to purchases a solar array for their home. While the inclination may be to dive into great detail on the zoning, legal, structural complexities of beginning a solar project, if you take this route without adding any personality to the writing, you will likely alienate most of your audience.  

That type of writing is not engaging, it is more akin to policy or legal writing—which serves a purpose but is not meant to help grow a business. When you bring in a human element—like a friendly, conversational tone—it helps bridge the gap between technical writing and familiar ideas. Using personality as your driver and a story as your vehicle helps you communicate and market more effectively, whether in the energy industry or otherwise.  

In the energy industry, things work a little differently. But having control of the conversation, taking a long-view, and entertaining innovating techniques can help you stay relevant and competitive. Contact us to learn more.