Tips and Tools for Promoting Your Energy-Efficiency Project (Text Version)
Courtney: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the DOE Technical Assistance Program. Today's Webinar is "Tips and Tools for Promoting Your Energy Efficiency Project," and our presenters today are Jim Arwood and Nancy Raca.
So before we jump into today's presentation, I'd like to take a few moments to describe the DOE Technical Assistance Program, or TAP, a little bit further. TAP is managed by a team in DOE's Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
These technical assistance providers can provide short-term unbiased expertise in energy efficiency, renewable energy technologies, program design and implementation, financing, performance contracting, state and local capacity building, in addition to providing one-on-one assistance were able to work with grantees at no cost to facilitate peer-to-peer matching workshops and training.
We encourage everyone who's in attendance to utilize the TAP blog. It's a platform that allows states, cities, counties and triads to connect with technical and program experts and share best practices. The blog is frequently updated with energy efficiency or renewable energy-related posts. We encourage you to utilize the blog, ask questions of your technical experts, share your success stories, best practices or lessons learned and interact with your peers.
Requests for direct technical assistance can be submitted online via the Technical Assistance _____. Once the request has been submitted, it will be evaluated to determine the level and the type of assistance TAP will provide.
Now we'll turn the Webinar over to our presenters.
Nancy Raca: Hi. This is Nancy Raca I am in the Strategic Communications Group at ICF International, and I'm joined today by Jim Arwood from NASEO, and we both promote support the EECBG and SEP programs for DOE, and I specifically work on communications issues.
And today's topic is really about how you can get some attention for your project, and by attention, there's lots of ways we can get attention by rally talking about press. How can you reach out to the press and get some coverage for the good work that you're doing with your EECBG funding?
We'll have a time for question and answers at the end, but if there are questions in the meantime, I think that there's a way you can just send it then as we go if you have a question about anything as we move along.
So this slideshow is what we're going to be talking about today. First, we're going to talk about, well, why do you want to get attention? Why even bother? Then we talk about how you can lay the groundwork for your outreach, and then what you actually need to do to perform that outreach to media. We're going to show you a couple examples.
Jim is going to talk about a couple of successful state examples of how they've reached out about their projects, and we're going to leave you with five next steps that you can take to get going on getting attention for your projects.
Okay. So why? Why should you get attention for your projects? Well, one reason is to be able to get public support. Another is to get recognition. Both for the hard work of the folks actually involved in planning and implementing the project, as well as for the government officials in your community and business leaders in your community. So good way to share your story and get coverage to recognize those folks who made it happen.
Also, sharing the success, maybe you've done something innovative in your community that no one else has tried. Maybe you have a particularly innovative aspect to your project, like coalition building. That's a good way to share your success, and then, also, to reinforce your messages and whatever brands that you're supporting for your own organization or community, whether it's a leader in energy efficiency or a leader in job creation.
Okay. So in terms of laying the groundwork for your outreach, the first thing you want to do is think about who you want to talk to and how those people get their information. So these may be neighbors of the facility, members of the school district where you're doing a project, for example, employees of a firm where you're installing energy-efficiency upgrades. It could be government officials, both in your community and outside your community, just general citizens, funders, who may be involved in future projects or this project, business partners, technical professionals. There are lots of people that you may want to talk to, and a lot of them get their information through different sources. Some probably through your local news, your local newspapers, some of them online. Some are going to be active seekers of information through Google, so you want to make sure you've got your Website information up there. Some are going to be sharing information through social networking, so we can look at how you can use that to promote your project.
Then you really need to think about what you want to tell them. It's tempting to talk about the details of the project, and you as people intimately involved in those projects, know those details and are very close to it, but the main thing to think about is what are the benefits of the project to the audience that you're trying to reach? What are the top three things that you want them to know about why this is a great project for your community?
So one of those is job creation. It may be job creation in terms of the team that put the project together. It may be jobs that are saved or created through the execution of the projects, and then it may be for a downstream job like lawyers, funders, technical experts, other people who have been brought onto the project or that will have jobs in the future because of this project.
Dollar savings is another one that's really important. If you can think about how much money is being saved, not only on energy costs, but down the road in terms of savings on maintenance or avoided costs from other sources. Really thinking about what the money savings is will help you craft that message for the people you're reaching out to.
Energy savings, _____, gas reductions, technical innovations, those are all interesting points, and you may have something in your project that is really unique, really going to resonate with the people in your audience, but typically, if people can read about energy savings or they can read about job creation, in the climate we're in now they want to read about job creation. They want to read about how this is saving them tax money. This is saving them money in their pockets from energy bills that are lower.
So you may also have other kinds of innovative things that you've done. Like maybe you've built a coalition. Maybe you've leveraged funds that otherwise couldn't have been leveraged. So think about that in crafting your top message points.
And then also think about who will speak for your organization. When you start reaching out to the press, they're going to want to interview someone, and think about who is best positioned to speak on behalf of your project, on behalf of your community, and make sure that that person has those message points handy and really internalize so that they can speak to them.
I wanted to note that visuals are really important. Think about what you can show about your project, and unfortunately, we wanted to show something about a project in the Seattle area, but having some video difficulties, this video is not yet available online, but will be. EECBG is doing a series of five videos about successful projects, and we will get to see one that is available online in a little bit.
But the main thing you want to think about is what from your project is something that you can show? Can you show happy school kids working productively in a retrofitted building? Can you show people driving electric cars? Can you show a ribbon-cutting or a groundbreaking ceremony with various local dignitaries?
You know, you can always show things like HVAC units and equipment, but you need to think about whether that is a visual that is effective for your audience, or would you rather show a picture of someone being able to turn down a thermostat or whatever because they live in a more energy-efficient building? So think about what translates into an understandable concept for your viewer or audience.
And you don't have to be a professional videographer to get video of your project. Even if you've got a Flip Video Camera, you can go out there and you can take video of your project. You can take video of your event, and you can post it on YouTube or on your Website just to give people an idea of what it is that you're doing, because as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Once you've thought about who you want to speak to and who's going to do the speaking and what you want to say and what you want to show, it's important that you get what we call an elevator speech. An elevator speech is a very quick overview of what your project is, ten or 20 seconds long, something that your spokesperson, or really anyone in your organization can commit to memory, really in the time that it would take to go, say, from the lobby of a hotel to the tenth floor or so.
So in the course of that you definitely want to avoid any jargons, and focus on the benefits of your project. I put here on the screen an example of an elevator pitch. Really, it's highlighting the benefits, and it tells where the money came from and who's going to benefit how. So we're going to save this much money. We're going to create this many jobs.
Your own elevator speech will differ, depending on what your project is, but this gives you a sense of the kind of thing we're talking about. Just remember _____ on our hits what is important to your audience in thinking about this elevator speech.
Okay. You also want to take some time to identify the press in your area that you want to reach out to. You know, as you probably are aware, different media outlets have different people who cover different types of subjects. So some people might be covering the business community, or they might typically cover health or the environment. Some people cover human interest stories. Pay attention when you read your local newspaper or watch your local news which reporter's byline do you see on stories that are sort of relevant to your industry, and which reporters seem to be covering the topics on the news that are kind of similar to the types of story that you would have.
We appear to be having an emergency. Jim, are you still on the line?
Jim Arwood: Yes.
Nancy Raca: Do you want to go and do your presentation? _____ to keep going. No. We have to leave. Okay, Jim. I'm going to ask you to wing it and take over.
Jim Arwood: Yes.
Nancy Raca: Thank you very much. We will return.
Jim Arwood: Okay. I hope people can hear me. Yes, I'm online. Okay. Well, I'm excited to be part of this Webinar, even though it seems like the others have had to leave. I spent four years as a newspaper editor for a small weekly newspaper, and then the next 25 years working in a state energy office, and I like to say it's a perfect storm of sorts for the topic we are discussing today.
I do not have control of the slides so I'm going to have to â€"
Courtney: Jim, you just touch the control if you click on the slides, and down on the bottom left-hand corner you can scroll through with the arrows.
Jim Arwood: Okay.
Courtney: The bottom left-hand corner where it says page number for the slide.
Jim Arwood: Yeah. Do you have control of it there, Jennifer?
Courtney: I'll go through it for you.
Jim Arwood: Okay. All right. Why don't you go ahead and forward then to my section. We'll skip over this, and if they get back we'll catch up with them.
One of the things I know that Nancy was going to talk about was press releases, and I'm just going to one quick minute talk a little bit about press releases before I talk about the media events.
From my experience in newspapers, I know firsthand how important that first paragraph is, and in writing your press release, they tell you to put your most important information in that first paragraph, and the reason is because newspaper folks that are receiving this are inundated with press releases every day, and they really don't have time to read the entire thing so you have to catch their attention right off the bat.
Let me give you a quick example. When I was an editor, I would receive 30, 40, 50 press releases a day, and I was in a very small newspaper, but these were more than I could actually read in a day, and I would generally read the first paragraph â€" kind of like what they tell you when they instruct you on how to write these. Sometimes I only had time to read the headline, and yes, there were times when I didn't even open the envelope.
I remember there was a PR firm in our state that would send me press releases on a regular basis, and one time I opened one of their press releases and started reading the notice there, and it was about a motel chain putting candies on the pillow at night, and from that day forward I never opened another press release from that firm.
So I can only imagine today, with email, the number of press releases that a media outlet receives, and I bet that has increased significantly from my day. And if I was working in the newspaper today, there would probably be times when the subject line of an email might determine if I even open the press release or not. So just to wrap up the press release, and I know Nancy will touch on this if they make it back, but put your best stuff at the beginning. Even the subject line in an email is important.
And if I can add one more thing about press releases, I would say don't do a press release for the sake of doing a press release. Kind of like the candy is on the pillow. To me it had no value. If you question the value of the information you are sharing, imagine what the person on the other end must think when they read it. And today it's a lot easier to add someone to the spam list for not being newsworthy than it was in my day. I still receive the envelopes and could select the ones I opened or not opened, but today they can block you off right away.
Now they had asked me to present on media events, which is something that I'm a very big proponent of in getting your message out. I believe that media events are one of the best ways of communicating to the media about a project, but they aren't the only vehicle for communicating. As Nancy would have pointed out, you have your press releases. You have radio, television and a lot of other mediums.
Why would we do a press event? Well, let me start by saying that a press event is a great way to showcase a project. They are great vehicles for communicating about a project, especially a groundbreaking or a dedication. And why am I big on the media events as a way of communicating? Because done right, I believe you significantly increase your chances of not only getting media exposure for your project, but also increase your exposure through a variety of mediums.
Let's start with why I believe you are significantly increasing your chances of success. Imagine for a moment that you are a reporter. A story falls in your lap about an energy project that is going on in your community. There are a number of people involved in the project, and you need to talk to all of them in order to cover the story from all angles.
You have the funding organization. You have the owner of the property, the contractor, possibly even the manufacturer of the equipment, and then, of course, you have people that are impacted by the project. For the sake of argument, let's just say you have four or five people that are critical to the story, and as a reporter, you need to talk to all of them before you can submit your story to your editor. That is what a reporter generally faces on a daily basis.
Now just for a moment imagine in your own day-to-day routine at your job if you had to get input from four or five people before completing every task. Compounding this, what if these four or five people weren't under the same roof and you had to chase them down, whether they were across town or just across the street. You have to chase them down to get their input before you can move on to the next task. How long do you think it would take to catch all these people at their desk? We're all familiar with playing phone tag. What about the return calls? It may take a day, two days, possibly three days before you can catch up with that person that you need to talk to, and that is the challenge that a reporter faces when doing a story or following up on a lead.
The reason I like media events, if done right, you're assembling all the right people, at least the ones you identify as being crucial to the story, and making them available to the media. Now imagine again you are that reporter and you know that everything you need for your story is going to be packaged for you in one place â€" from the project background to photo opportunities, to interview opportunities. Everything you need to complete your story is there. Heck, you might even be able to turn your story in before noon.
That is appealing to the reporter, and you are doing all the legwork, and all he or she has to do is write it up. And after all, the part of the job that a reporter enjoys most is writing the story. The rest of it is work: making the phone calls, finding the person. All that is work, and you're eliminating that work for the reporter by doing the media event and bringing everybody together in one place for them, and by doing that, you're letting them do what they enjoy most, and that is writing. And that is why, I believe, that you're increasing your chances of media exposure for your project through a media event.
What are some of the advantages, other than getting the media there, of course? It's also a format that appeals to all mediums. It's not just the newsprint, the newspaper, but television and radio, and that's what I mean when I say you're increasing your exposure by attracting more types of media.
A media event is just as appealing for a TV and radio station as it is for newspapers, and largely for the same reason. In the case of television, rarely do you see a news program air a story that requires them to hop around the city chasing down interviews. They don't have time for that.
So it's my opinion that the advantages of a media event are that you are not only increasing the chance of your project being reported, but you're increasing the number and types of media that will report it.
Now there are disadvantages as well. A media event requires more effort and coordination among participants. It requires advance planning. The planning of an event â€" Jennifer, could you go to the next slide? Thanks.
The planning of an event needs to involve more than your organization. In most cases you're going to have an event on the site, and it is a site that you don't necessarily have control over. Let me use an example, seeing as how I have the time here.
I was involved in a media event for Earth Day probably 15 years ago, and we had the national CBS Evening News there to do the story, but they couldn't get what they needed because there was music playing in the background, and it wouldn't edit together well. You would have the guy talking, and there would be one song and then they would cut to an interview and there'd be a different song, and so it was an awkward moment that they said, "We can't get what we need." So we had to ask for the people in charge of the music if they would turn it down, or even stop it for 30 minutes so we could conduct the interviews, and that required a lot of negotiation. So you need to have involvement and cooperation from all the stakeholders and everybody at the site to avoid any unforeseen circumstance.
More importantly, though, you need to involve these folks in the process because they are part of the story. You can't hold a successful media event if the funder is the only one presenting and the only side of the story that is being told. The reporter wants a well-rounded story, and that requires more viewpoints than one organization. If there is only one viewpoint to the story, the media can cover that story without ever having to leave the office, so there isn't a reason for your media event. And the reason they're more likely to attend the event in the first place is because you've assembled all these different pieces for them in one place. If there is only one piece, their time to chase that down is minimal, and it might be easier for them to do this over the phone from their office as opposed to attending your event.
In addition to adding to the story, your grantees or stakeholders are also important components to getting the story out. Maybe their organization has a newsletter. We did a media event this summer with the St. Vincent DePaul organization, and St. Vincent DePaul had their own newsletter, a monthly newsletter that went out to many thousands of people in their organization, and they covered the event as a reporter, and took photos alongside the other media. So the organization may have a communication tool that would benefit.
Or maybe they have a working relationship with a reporter. I know that Nancy was going to touch on this earlier about establishing working relationships with reporters, but that is something that your stakeholders may bring to the table, besides being a part of the actual story.
As I mentioned earlier, an event requires more planning and coordination, and don't underestimate the amount of advance planning that goes into an event. Everything from coordinating the schedules to find a time that everyone is available to contacting the media, and there are a number of steps in between.
For example, earlier this summer I mentioned the activity with St. Vincent DePaul, and working with the state energy office and putting together a media event, and I documented all the steps that we went through in that effort, and NASEO has put these into a document that will be available on our Website next week, and that's www.naseo.org. And this is a document on the steps to go through for putting together a media event, and it's just one possible approach to how to organize one, but we cover such things in that as establishing a planning committee. You want more than just a communications person planning this.
You also want possibly the project manager, and one of the advantages to having the project manager involved in your planning is they have a knowledge and a view of the project that no one else has, and I know that in the particular case this summer, they were able to point to the best place in the facility not only to hold the event for the sound, but also they were able to work with the photographers and the news media that came along on angles of where to get the best photo opportunity. And these are things that no one else would've known about. The communication person would've never known where that best angle is, where the sun is shining the best and reflecting the best and the lighting is the best. So when you put together a committee, reach out to not only people with communication background, but also people with the knowledge of the project itself.
And that summer I remember doing one of the two meetings that we held prior to the event. We were going down the list of things that we needed to have available at the event, and some of these were like a poster with the Recovery Act logo on it, a handout on the project stating all the project metrics, and a podium. Those were some of the things that we had identified that we needed, and I remember we got into quite a bit of a debate about the podium, and the person responsible for setting up for this event didn't want to have to haul a podium to the event. It was heavy. It took a lot of time, and it just was not easy to the process, but there is a very legitimate argument for a podium.
Where are the TV stations and radio stations going to put their microphones? And afterwards I remember hearing the same person that was arguing against having the podium there say, "Wow. It's a good thing we had that podium there."
So these are the type of things that we cover in our media event planning guidance. We talk about the things that you need to have there and things that you need to consider, why you need to consider them, and also in this document we talked about holding a debriefing afterwards.
The debriefing is an opportunity to discuss what went right. Having a podium there, for instance, and to what would we change in the future. You know, like coordinating with the group that's playing the music to turn it off for 30 minutes. So a debriefing is important to help you plan for your next event, and I know that leading up to that event this summer, there wasn't an effort to plan for the next one. That was basically going to be a one shot and done, but the response from the media was so great, and the response in the news, not only from television coverage, but the newspaper. The newspaper ran this on the front page of the B section with two large color photos, and the story started on that front page and went inside, and in the view of everybody that was involved, the response was so great that it was something that we knew that we would've never have received if we had to just issue the press release. So what I'm saying is it is a great way to showcase an event, and it's a great way to ensure that you get a lot of coverage.
There you go. Media advisory. The last thing I want to cover is the media advisory, and this is just one of the many different vehicles for your outreach, and I know Nancy had a number of them that were earlier in the presentation, and I'm sorry I don't have talking points for those.
Nancy Raca: And we're back.
Jim Arwood: Oh. Well, let me wrap up on the media advisory and, Nancy, you can â€"
Nancy Raca: Okay. Keep going.
Jim Arwood: Okay. The media advisory, an example of one is included in the NASEO guidance that I talked about a minute ago, but I feel it is necessary to mention it as part of this presentation because without the media advisory there isn't a media event. The media advisory is the method by which you alert the media and attract them to your event. Our planning document goes through the various components in the media advisory, and I'll touch on them briefly here. They're on your screen. Just as that press release, you have one or two paragraphs to give them the project background. This is where you frame your message, and remember, just as in the press release, you put your best stuff first.
You also need to list who will be at the event and available for interviews. Generally you would list them by name, title, and maybe one short sentence that will link them to the project. Next is your advisory, what â€" is it a groundbreaking or is it a dedication? Is there a tour? What will they see? What is the visual or how will you accommodate the media so they get the visual images they need? And as part of this planning, as we mentioned earlier, do you need a ladder for the photographer to get above the subject? TV stations, more so than radio, are going to be interested in knowing what it is they will be able to see or capture. So you might in here tell them what they will see.
Where it is located, and any special instructions for parking. TV stations sometimes have large vans with antennas that need special parking. They have a lot of equipment that they need to haul in and out so they need to be close at hand. So in planning your event you need to accommodate these needs. And last, but not least, of course, is when, the date and time, and how long the event is going to be, and how long the people will be there available for them to interview.
So in a nutshell that is a quick introduction to the media event, and I invite you to contact me directly or visit the NASEO Website to get a copy of our media event planning guidance. My email is jarwood@NASEO.org.
And so I'm glad Nancy is back and can talk to the slides that we skipped over. So, Nancy, do you want to take over?
Nancy Raca: Sure. Courtney, can you back to the slides we skipped over? And everything is fine here at DOE headquarters. All is well. Okay. We got past that. Keep going. Okay. So let's talk about the press release. So, Jim, you didn't talk about the press release at all?
Jim Arwood: I only mentioned the importance of your lead, starting with your best stuff first.
Nancy Raca: Yes. Definitely is important to start with the most important information. If you think of the press release as an upside-down triangle with your most important information at the top, and then you're getting down into the details as you go.
This is not the place where you put in every little detail about your project. Really just enough to answer the who, what, where, when, why for your reporter, and the reason that people should care. You want to also include a quote. If you can get a quote from, say, your mayor or the project director or some other official, then that can go into there. Also, at DOE they have lead time on the event that you're planning. Sometimes it may be possible to get a quote from a DOE person to include in your press release.
So it's really good to let your regional coordinator or project officer know what events you're planning so that at the DOE side we can coordinate and make sure that we can do whatever we can to support you.
At the very end of the press release you're going to have a little boilerplate language about your organization. This just tells the reporter a little bit more about who is putting out this press release, and how they can contact you.
If we go to the next slide â€"
Courtney: Nancy, you should have access.
Nancy Raca: I have that. Okay.
Courtney: I'll give you the slide _____.
Nancy Raca: Okay. So here you see a general format for a press release, and you can see your contact information is up at the top, and your headline is in bold. You want to have a verb in there that tells what you're doing. Maybe a little bit of detail in a sub-headline. You're going to show where and when right up front. This is the place where the project is taking place or where you're announcing it from, and the date. This is the date the announcement is going to be made or that the information in this press release takes effect. And so here you can see what they're doing is announcing a new project, and you can see right in this first paragraph what it's going to do. It's going to replace all 90,000 of the city's traffic lights with energy-efficient LEDs. So this is just an example. You want to keep your paragraphs brief and to the point. Focus on your main information.
And I will mention also that DOE is in the process of developing some communications guidance, which will be available to grantees, that will have downloadable press releases that you can customize, and more information about how to write a press release, as well as all other kinds of communications information that you'll want to know, as well as the other things covered in this presentation.
Okay. All right. So you need to send the press release out, obviously, and that is part of pitching to the media. So it used to be all about being on the phone, and really the key thing with the press is relationships. Getting to know editors and reporters, and being able to feed them information on a semi-regular basis, not just when you have a big announcement, is a good way to build that relationship because, remember, reporters are looking for information, stories to cover. So it's good to get to know your reporters.
However, it is okay to send your press releases out by email, and to write an email to the reporter telling them a little bit about the story. Then you can follow it up with a phone call and say, "Hey, just wanted to make sure you got my email, and wanted to see if you'd be interested in talking with our spokesperson," whether it's the mayor or the director of the project or whatever, or to say, "You know, we're going to be having this event," like Jim was talking about, "and this would be a great time to come out and see something happening at the project site.
Again, keep it brief, and find that angle that's going to interest the reporter. If that reporter covers health things, is there a health component? If they cover business, what's the business aspect? What are the jobs created? What's the long-term return on the investment? Think about that because that has much more appeal than just saying, â€˜Cause we have a new energy efficiency project.
Another element of press outreach, which can be very successful, especially if there is a lot of talk around an issue in your community or if there's some attention to the place where you're doing your project or the type of project you're doing is an op-ed article. These are opinion pieces that go on the editorial page that are written generally under the name of an official or some kind of person with a responsibility for the project. You may write it, but put someone else's name to it, such as your boss, your mayor or something like that.
These are pieces that are generally designed to persuade the reader about your point of view. To give facts that may influence their opinion of your project or facts that have maybe been misrepresented or omitted from other coverage about your project, but you want to stay focused on one message that you want to convey there.
So how you go about doing that is it's basically written like a letter to the editor, and you can often say, you know, Writing in response to this article that appeared, or In response to so and so's comments in a previous article, or whatever. And then you basically write from the perspective of that person whose name is going on the letter, explaining the main point that you want to get across.
Then you send it in to the editor at your local paper, and there again, it's good to follow up, but generally they will contact you if they are going to run it, depending on what media market you're in. In smaller media markets, and depending on the visibility of your project, it may be easier to get these.
I think your first go-to pieces for reaching out to the press are your press release and your media advisory. This is something that you may want to employ after you've done some of those other things.
Okay. So, Jim, you talked about media events. Correct?
Jim Arwood: Yes.
Courtney: Do you want to show the Philly video?
Nancy Raca: I do. So Courtney is going to show the Philly video. You should be able to hear the audio. The visual may be a little bit delayed. You can see this on the energyandpower.gov Website under Video Stories, but I want you to look at â€" this is a video that shows not only the success of the project and the benefits of the project in terms of jobs created and savings in terms of taxpayer dollars, but it also shows with films during press conference. So it shows how they used an on-the-streets location near where they were setting up new LEC lights to maximize the visuals for the press, and you will also see in this video, it also shows how the City of Philadelphia used the trucks that they drive around the city on a normal basis to promote the project. And it says, like, "Philadelphia is going green," and it talks about, I think, the Recovery Act on it. You'll see the picture of it in the video.
So let's go ahead and run the video.
Nancy Raca: Okay. So there again, take note of the visuals that they had on hand at the press conference. They had the mayor in shirtsleeves right out there on the street with the people talking about his project. They had a big check. They had workers actually working on streetlights, and then they had those trailer trucks emblazoned all over the place with information about this project, really eye-catching stuff.
So there are lots of ways that you can create visuals for your project. Doesn't have to be expensive, but it can have so much more impact than just holding, say, a press conference in a conference room somewhere.
Okay. Just advancing the slides. Okay. And, of course, here in media outreach definitely remember that there are other ways that you can use the information that you've practiced for, your press releases, for your elevator speech, to get the word out. Think about where else you guys are getting word out to the public. Maybe your organization or your town has a Facebook page. Maybe you appear at street fairs where you could pass out information about what's going on at this local school where there's energy efficiency upgrades, or where there's going to be charging stations for electric cars coming up in your area.
Think about whether you can put something on your Website that would be interesting to people, whether it's your town Website, your organization's Website or your business's Website.
Social media is going to get you some viral distribution so, like I said, you can be out there with a Flip Camera filming what's going on, and you can post that on YouTube and promote it from your Facebook page, promote it on your Website, have people talk about it in speaking opportunities, and that helps the word get out there on itself in terms of generating buzz about it.
Okay. That was the Philadelphia video. Okay. And then, Jim, did you want to talk about these two examples or did you already speak about that?
Jim Arwood: No, I didn't and I will, but I want to follow up on something that you said, and follow up on that video for just one second, because when I went over planning a media event, I mentioned some of the things that I think were illustrated in that video from Philadelphia.
And one, if you heard the earlier presentation on the media event, there was a podium there, and I notice that the mayor was speaking from the podium, and that's where the news media microphones were. Also, there was a sign there. You saw the sign that had the logo of the Recovery Act, announcing this project as being a Recovery Act Project. So there was also a sign.
And there was somebody there talking about the metrics, the savings, the number of streetlights, those things, and also I noticed that they were replacing a streetlight, and this is something that would've been in that media advisory. Telling the media what they would see, what they would be able to capture at that event. The media advisory would probably have said something about a demonstration of a replacement of a streetlight will be part of the activity there.
I think I counted four people in the video that spoke. There was the mayor. There was somebody from the Department of Energy. There was somebody talking about the metrics, and then there was actually somebody that was doing the job itself. So those are people that you had assembled and put together in one place for the media, and it made that job of tracking these down and getting that story a lot easier.
So I just wanted to reiterate some of those points that we went over earlier, Nancy, that were demonstrated in that video â€˜cause I think it demonstrates those very well.
This slide here has a couple of states â€" Kentucky and Michigan â€" and talks a little bit about what they are doing in the way of outreach, and I know I've communicate over the past year with a lot of state energy offices. All of them are approaching media outreach a little bit differently. Some are very sophisticated in their approach, having a long track record of promoting their programs and projects through the media, and some are just doing some of this for the very first time. They have had limited interaction with the media in the past. They may have had activities where they promoted the availability of a grant or publicized the awards, but they may not have gone to the next step, and that is promoting their project or the result of the grant, and that sometimes is a new step for some people, and that is one of the things that we were hoping to emphasize here as ways to publicize the projects themselves.
And as you can see from these slides, a couple of examples of what state energy offices are doing. Kentucky has been actively promoting their projects for a long time. They started developing a monthly newsletter, Energy at Work, and in the beginning it was a generic overview of the grants and their purpose, but now they are focusing more on the stories behind the grant. They are also using social media. They have a Facebook page that has more than 300 fans, plus they're exploring other social media venues â€" Twitter.
I know Nevada used Twitter very effectively during the launch of their Appliance Rebate Program. For the first couple hours after the program went live they were issuing a Tweet every few minutes updating followers on the news surrounding the program, how much money was left, those type of things.
Kentucky has also started using YouTube, and bought a small camera to record video clips of events, and they're encouraging their partners, their stakeholders, their sub-grantees, to develop and submit videos for them to promote through their YouTube channel and, of course, they issue regular press releases to communicate about their specific milestones.
In talking with them, I know they've encountered some challenges, and one of them is working with their partners so they don't duplicate efforts, which is one reason why we talked earlier about bringing the stakeholders into the process. But one of the biggest challenges they have encountered is keeping up the speed on the projects with their partners, so as not to miss a major milestone that can be promoted. So that's one thing regular contact with the sub-grantees and the contractors and the people out in the field doing the work, you want to make sure you have that contact so you don't miss a milestone that may be something that you want to promote.
And Kentucky, one of the recommendations they give people working in this area is to think ahead about milestones and potential events. Look ahead a month. What is going to be happening in a month? What can you begin planning for today? What milestone can you begin planning for today, as opposed to waiting until it's upon you?
I know Michigan recognized the early importance of blending traditional media outreach techniques and innovative media to get the word out about their programs and projects. The challenges they've faced is they aren't media people in their office, and they have very little resources for media. They don't have the time. They don't have the budget. So this has become a challenge for them, and also, some of the communities that they're working with may not be good at promoting themselves beyond their local level. It may be something that the energy office would like to see promoted statewide, but it's only being promoted at a local level. And the grantees, one of the things that Michigan is attempting to do is make sure that their grantees know the importance of celebrating these milestones so that they can actually promote these projects.
They've started their own YouTube channel, and they're participating in regional TV shows and radio programs, and I really like that idea. Participating in existing program, whether it's a radio or TV show, â€˜cause you're basically riding on their coattails. They do all the work. You come in and just tell your story. So if there's a way to get yourself or your project or your staff onto a radio program or onto a TV show to talk about it, something that already exists, that's a great way of doing this.
There are a lot of other states that I could point to as being very active. Colorado has a former newspaper reporter on staff writing their stories. You know, across the country everybody has started looking to ways of promoting this. We'll just use those two examples and, Nancy, I'll turn it back over to you.
Nancy Raca: Okay. Great. So let's just review and talk about the five next steps that you could take today to get going with reaching out about your project.
First thing is to write down your main message points. Really consider, again, what are the benefits to your community, what are the things that people are caring about right now? Jobs, savings and the future. What are the future returns on your project?
Identify your spokesperson. This sounds easy, but you'd be surprised. All of a sudden you have an inquiry from the media and you have nobody to talk and nobody that has thought about what your messages are. No one is that prepared to do that or not to shy to speak in front of them. So think about that now.
Write up your elevator speech. Share it with your spokesperson. Share it with the other people on your project so that everybody is really singing from the same song sheet in terms of what's important about this project and how do we want to portray it to the community.
Collect visuals for your project. Again, thinking about what you saw in that video, thinking about what is it about your project that can be shown that can translate something that might be really technical? Things that have an impact on people's daily lives.
And then plan an event or write a press release about your project, and definitely let your regional coordinator or project officer know. We can get all that information together and be ready to support you with that event however we can.
And again, as I mentioned, coming soon will be a communications guidance document from DOE that will cover, actually, EECBG and SEP, and Jim, I think, has offered to make available to you the media event guide that NASEO has produced.
So I think that really concludes our presentation for today. You can see on this slide upcoming Webinars provided by the TAP, and if there are any questions, I guess you can enter those into the Chat field or Question field on your viewer.
Courtney: Nancy, it looks like we do have a couple of questions in the Question box. The first one is, "Will the site be available for download later?" And I can answer that. The slides will be available on the DOE Solution Center Website. So for everyone that was in this presentation, you can go on later and download those slides.
The next question, Nancy, and then if you guys want to address this one. It's, "How and where can you find a list and contact information of media outlets in your state?"
Nancy Raca: Jim, do you want to tackle that?
Jim Arwood: Yeah. You know, there are actually organizations, like the National Newspaper Association, and I think it's a very small fee, like $79.00, and they will send you all the newspapers that are affiliated with their national organization in your state. And, actually, for $79.00 they send you the entire country, but it's a list of all the newspapers, their mailing address, phone numbers, the editor's name and the editor's email address. So you could get that list from them, and for an added extra charge you can have it updated whenever something changes.
Years ago they used to put out these books, and it was called "Finder Binder," and it had every media, whether it was a magazine, it was a newspaper, whether it was a weekly newspaper, a radio station, a TV station, and it listed everybody in the organization, including, like, the business editor, the business writer, the features writer, the assignment editor, the managing editor. So there are organizations within each state, and it may vary from state to state what organization, but there are these resources available, and at the national level, the National Newspaper Association, I think it is, that has the papers that are associated with their organization that you can get all that information from.
And for $79.00, and I remember I used to go through and do this. Just a few short years ago I spent time on the Internet going to every newspaper in the state and getting their contact information, putting it together, and it probably took me an entire day to assemble that list, and then I found this other resource and it was like $79.00. I probably spent that in the first three hours with my time. So, you know, it's a great timesaver to do this, and I hope that answers your question.
Nancy Raca: Are there any other questions, Courtney?
Courtney: Actually, I'm having trouble with my screen.
The other question is, we had some attendees asking where the media event document is listed that was mentioned in the _____.
Jim Arwood: Right. That will be online next week, and if they want to, I can send it to them in an email if they want to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can email that to them as well.
Courtney: Okay. And can you also just mention one more time where the media list is with the contacts?
Jim Arwood: The National Newspaper Association, I believe. And you know what? I will add that to the document. I don't know it off the top of my head what their official name is, but I think if you actually even did a Google search for newspaper lists or something that you would come up with it that way as well.
Courtney: Okay. Great.
Nancy Raca: And to add to that, there are several places, depending on your community, where you can purchase media lists, but really the best way is to build it yourself, and that way you're really taking into account what you have seen that reporter covering, and what their interests really are, and you begin developing that relationship by really paying attention to what their covering.
Remember like I said, with the media the thing is developing relationships, and they're looking for information. It doesn't have to be just about promoting your project. There might be other information you can share with them that would be helpful to a story they're working on.
So being seen as a resource for a reporter is really a big part of getting media coverage, and so it helps to start with a list. Maybe also a partner organization of yours has a media list that they work off of, but then you always want to customize it to make sure that the information on there is correct for your circumstances.
Courtney: Okay. Great. Well, we don't have anymore questions right now.
Nancy Raca: We apologize for the disruption at the DOE headquarters building.
Courtney: Yes. So we do apologize for the disruption, and Nancy and Jim, we want to thank you for presenting today, and once again, just remind all the attendees to join us for some of the upcoming Webinars from DOE. So with that I think our broadcast is over. Thank you. Good-bye.