Category ArchiveClean Tech
Ann Arbor, Michigan PR Firm &Business and Economy &Business of PR &Clean Tech &Corporate Communications &Ecofriendly &Entrepreneurs &Environment &Marketing Communications &Sustainable Transportation &Technology PR Insights &Thinking Green 17 Jun 2009 10:02 am
On June 12, 2009 Main Street played host to the 9th Annual Mayor’s Ann Arbor Green Fair. Underneath the lush green leafy canopy of Ann Arbor’s city center, local eco-friendly vendors and businesses gathered to discuss, exhibit, explain and sell all things Green. Booths lined both sides of downtown Main Street between Huron and William with companies both large and small, profit (Whole Foods) and non-profits (Friends of the Allen Creek Greenway) encouraging visitors to focus on environmental-sustainability for the future. BikeFest, with tutorials and ideas on bicycle transportation was also included in the festivities.
The annual Mayor’s Ann Arbor Green Fair signifies the growth and opportunity the Green Industry represents in our current economic climate. The traditional preservation communities made their appearance at the Fair, but also notably present were industries that do not immediately suggest “environmentalist”. Examples of these include: The Bank of Ann Arbor, Amtrak and Ann Arbor division of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). As a casual onlooker and job seeker, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of activity towards Green initiatives. Also particularly interesting is the governmental support of eco-sustainability. In addition to the Mayor’s continued backing of the Fair (scheduled in the heart of Festival season by the way), Washtenaw County showed off their ecological commitment with exhibitions on weatherization, water resources and environmental health. More on Washtenaw County’ s Green initiatives can be found at their homepage.
“Going Green” is no longer just a fad, but a serious consideration for any business leader or those looking for business or jobs. The sophistication of green-centric organizations was on display at last week’s Fair. A list of companies and businesses that appeared at last week’s Fair can be found here. The city of Ann Arbor listing for the event can be found here. In order to take eco-friendly businesses to the next step in terms of impact and economic stability, I believe it is time for these businesses to enlist traditional marketing and public relations expertise. The audience is ready to listen. Attendance of the Green Fair was bustling and curious. Each booth attracted three to four visitors and musical acts entertained at each corner. The Green Fair even out-paced the turnout of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival’s First Night gathering just 5 blocks north. “Going Green” is no longer simply the way of the future, but as the Green Fair showed, the future.
Last week I wrote about including “Going Green” in business plans of the future, not only to help the environment, but also to sustain company coffers. This strategy is readily apparent following General Motors (GM), Chrysler and Ford’s visit to Congress last month and their subsequent unveilings at last week’s North American International Auto-show (NAIA).
In December, the CEOs of Detroit’s Big Three trekked out to Congress on the wheels of their newest hybrid vehicles in search of a Bailout. Although the CEOs were successful in acquiring a $17.4 Billion loan, the trip cost the automakers a great deal of credibility and public perception. GM CEO Richard Wagoner defended the decisions of the last few years as “right for the time”. GM’s resolute decision-making resulted in sluggish development of fuel-efficient vehicles; a disparaging trend given the nimble (and successful) movements of Toyota and Honda. The U.S. auto leaders needed to become relevant and responsible once again. Like many businesses both in Michigan and around the world, they turned their focus to environmental issues.
The Big Three were able to secure the congressional loan on the merits of their plan to go green and produce hybrid vehicles; an act that will benefit all three companies financially and in the public’s eye. A report in the Michigan Business Review identifies the mission ahead:
“[Chrysler, Ford and GM] face the challenge of introducing new products while convincing the public that they’ll be around to build those products.”
These new products include a more fuel-efficient, direct-inject turbocharged engine called Ecoboost from Ford…which sounds cool enough to be in a Batman movie. GM is looking for big returns on their E-Flex platform in which vehicles are battery dominant and plug-in capable. Chrysler is making the most of its new bailout bounty by promising three electric vehicles by 2010, shocking to some. Until these new innovations reach the market, PR opportunities such as the NAIA and news reports must be considered deftly. Going Green isn’t enough anymore to sway the American consumer. Companies now must to show purpose with environmental measures, especially when they are receiving our tax dollars.
Mobile marketing has been around for a few years but we are only now starting to see the global implications of its technology. As a society we are becoming ever more dependent on technology to run our daily lives.
Mobile marketing is an effective tool in connecting the audience to what they want. Two things in particular stand out on their own merit; and they are 1) mobile marketing can be marketed as green technology and 2) it’s instantaneous. Green technology is beginning to take new forms with eco-friendly cell phones and PDA’s. Even the simple act of charging the phone day and night, wastes energy. Although this problem may be harder to fix, one solution is not. By this I mean the paperless result of using the cell phone. With mobile marketing the option of paperless tickets, barcode scanning, and coupon vouchers being taken directly off your phone can greatly reduce the waste in paper.
The second aspect of mobile marketing that is extremely important is the instantaneous aspect of it all. With regards to PR the result can be the same as well: it is somewhat simpler because the product is getting delivered directly to the intended audience. There is no waiting and in most cases it is in real time so the technology follows the persons habits and actions. With information and news already old an hour after we hear about it, instantaneous access is a huge benefit of the mobile market.
Along with these two large points there are a few smaller reasons as well. First, it is personal. It is targeted at specific people and/or consumers and thus the strategy plays around those constituents. Secondly, mobile marketing is an ever evolving and exciting technology. The number of tools and products out there leave a lot to the imagination. This also presents a challenge to a high tech PR company because it needs to be aware of the trends and changes in order to successfully achieve its goals. Lastly, mobile marketing makes it easier to communicate, surf the web, make purchases, advertise, and so on.
With so much information out there, it is hard to denote one from the other as better. With the help of a public relations company and the ability for mobile marketing to reach a vast number of people it is becoming easier and will soon be one of the leading devices in advertising and communicating to the public.
How is being environmentally conscious going to affect the high tech PR companies and their approach to media?
With the world of technology beginning to think “green,” high tech companies are finding ways to improve their products and promote them to the environmental friendly way of life.
Whether you are a PR firm in Ann Arbor or Michigan, when you are considering your market positioning strategy, one key opportunity today is using “green.”
What PR companies have to realize is that it is not enough to just write a media release saying how good the company is for the environment. It is more about putting words into action that people care about. These clean tech companies are going to have to create products that demonstrate what they advocate (less toxic items in their products, recyclable, etc). And wouldn’t a green-minded public relations strategy enhance the clean tech mindset? The options could include paperless media kits, flash drives, digital releases, media tours that promote both the company and green ideas, getting experts in the field to endorse what you are doing.
In reality, true green thinkers are more adept at picking out the falsehoods from what is fact. With PR, one of the main ideas should revolve around not doing publicity for the sake of publicity. It needs to mean something. Green thinking and clean technology is becoming a cause, like the fight against poverty, or the global food crisis, or even the fight against cancer. It is a hot topic issue among presidential debates or around the local watering hole. And high tech public relations companies need to understand that it is not just talking about the environment but acting upon it as well.
Yes there is a but. The biggest obstacle to promoting environmental organizations actions and services is the lack of creativity on our part. We need to understand that not every story is a “breakthrough” and find that angle that makes it relevant to the public.
Nevertheless, when doing PR for a company that either promotes green living or wants to sell itself as environmentally friendly, it the public relation company’s responsibility to make sure that the business in question carries those values into their own daily operations. Otherwise, it just becomes hypocritical publicity.