How emerging energy startups can leverage PR and marketing

Posted by Sara Hawthorn
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The road from idea to commercial product can take years of development, funding rounds and trials. During this time it can be difficult to know what, if any, PR or marketing activity to do. In this blog we look at the options and ways for energy startups to leverage marketing and put themselves in the strongest position as they go from innovation to purchasable product. 


It’s never too early to plan

When the foundations are being laid to take an idea from concept to reality the focus is often on how to fund the development and creating the commercial proposition. Business plans and proposals are geared towards one stakeholder – investors. This means elements such as market size, growth and investment return are the primary concerns. Rarely do early stage startups include a marketing strategy in these documents, yet the process of creating one can help emerging energy companies strengthen their investor proposals and build a foundation which makes future marketing activity easier to achieve.  

In any marketing or comms strategy we consider the profile of target audiences, barriers to adoption and opportunities to educate and persuade potential customers which can be met by targeted marketing activity and goal setting. All of these are elements that can sit within an investment proposal and, by demonstrating these considerations and awareness of the importance of marketing in adoption of your product early on, you make your proposal more attractive to an investor. 

While the initial marketing strategy may evolve and change as companies progress along their startup path, the questions it prompts and the foundation it provides are valuable experiences for any energy startup.


Promotion without a product

Without a commercially ready product to talk about or case study examples to share what options are available to energy startups for media coverage and to start building relationships with potential customers? The truth is, more than you think. 

This is actually a great time to start media relations, here are three story options which work in this scenario: 


1.The Origins Story

All good ideas come from somewhere. Maybe it’s personal experience of a problem or being presented with an industry challenge. What does the founders’ story look like? Was there a lightbulb moment, or a life-changing event? Journalists are interested in stories and the best stories come from people, people who often don’t think their life is a story worth telling. Our blog on Identifying your origins story for earned media coverage goes into how to leverage this in more detail. 


2. Top energy start up lists

A lot of trade, nationals and business publications will run articles listing the best, must-watch, or exciting energy start ups. As the subjects of climate change, the energy transition and Circular Economy become more mainstream, it’s a growing area of interest and journalists are keen to know of companies who are innovating and attempting to break moulds and launch new, cleaner, smarter technologies. 


3. Investment announcements

Press releases on key milestones are a good media opportunity. Especially when it comes to funding rounds which result in seven figure investments from notable organisations. When pitching this type of story consider the external factors – have any government announcements been made regarding energy policy, or are we near a milestone like COP26 next year? This could affect how receptive or open broadcast and nationals are to receiving pitches on energy innovations and the companies behind them. 


Document your journey

Transparency and trust are mentioned a lot in marketing and PR spheres these days. For energy start ups – especially those working with new and untested technologies in this area, like hydrogen – both are integral parts of building relationships with potential customers and establishing a brand. One of the biggest hurdles we hear from our clients in the energy industry is that their clients don’t want to be the first. They want to know that any technology or system they buy into is credible and will work. The risk factor is often why the status quo prevails with large, established businesses who deliver tried and tested systems winning out over emerging energy start ups.

By using content marketing to document and share the startup journey from an early stage, businesses can begin to gain buy-in from potential customers. From interviews with investment backers, to showcasing latest trial projects, to short videos documenting product updates or the company background, there are multiple tactics which can be used to build trust and interest in an emerging energy start up. 


Start earlier for better long term results

It’s extremely common to think about PR and marketing only when everything is neatly packaged, ready and all the other important items are ticked off the to do list. But earlier consideration and leveraging of PR and marketing strategies and tactics can put energy startups in a much stronger position throughout their whole startup journey, meaning that when a product is fully commercialised supporting marketing activity is clearer, smoother and delivers faster results. 



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