Cool Earth Solar
Since its founding 2006, Cool Earth Solar has worked to reshape the way people look at solar energy. Using its inflated, balloon-like solar concentrators and concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) technology, Cool Earth Solar developed a breakthrough solar technology that could ultimately produce enough clean energy to solve the global energy crisis. Cool Earth Solar builds, owns and operates utility-scale solar power plants and sells the power back to the grid at costs competitive with electricity produced with fossil fuels.
||“Cool Earth Solar’s experience with Schwartz Communications has been tremendous. Not only have they surpassed our expectations in terms of media coverage, through both the media and speaking programs, but they have also brought attention to another topic that our company feels very strongly about – the global energy crisis. Schwartz has a very real understanding of our company and our product and has been essential in helping us refine our messaging and key differentiators in the marketplace. As Cool Earth Solar continues to develop as a company, Schwartz will remain an invaluable part of this growth.”
Tony Chen, senior manager, business development, Cool Earth Solar
Unlike other utility-scale solar providers, Cool Earth Solar uses inexpensive or free materials that are readily and abundantly available, such as plastic thin film and air. This radically reduces materials requirements, cost and time for deployment and enables Cool Earth Solar to rapidly scale its plants to meet demand. In addition, the unique design is less disruptive to the environment than traditional solar technologies: rather than grading and scraping the land to achieve a perfectly flat surface, Cool Earth Solar concentrators are well-suited to areas that have already been disturbed, such as fallow farmland.
In the last three years, the renewable solar energy and CPV markets have become increasingly crowded, invaded by a myriad of technologies and venture capital investments. Differentiation in this market is difficult but essential. Rather than being lumped together with the other CPV companies, San Francisco Bay Area-based Cool Earth Solar made it clear to Schwartz’s public relations team that it had to establish itself as a thought-leader and standout in the field of solar energy from day one to make it a company to watch in the industry and in Silicon Valley.
Cool Earth Solar partnered with Schwartz Communications in August of 2008. Because of the unique aesthetic of its balloon-like design, the company had already secured initial media interest from a handful of solar-industry watchers. Schwartz immediately worked to build upon this early foundation and establish Cool Earth Solar as a game-changer in the field of utility-scale solar.
As a startup, Cool Earth Solar faced two unique problems. First, it had to validate its breakthrough technology while still in the prototyping phase. Second, to meet its aggressive plans for growth, it had to attract and retain the best engineering talent in a hyper competitive job market.
Schwartz PR Strategy
Though Cool Earth Solar had received early media interest, to many in the green technology sector, it remained a bit of a mystery. To address the fact that Cool Earth was not producing electricity, Schwartz mapped out a media strategy that would focus on Cool Earth Solar's innovative technology as a game-changer in the utility-scale solar space, as opposed to capitalizing on company milestones. The objectives for this initial program included:
- Create clear messaging that outlined the key differentiators between Cool Earth Solar and its primary competitors. The messages provided a narrative on the global energy crisis and how the company was working to address it. With the product still in development, company messaging was essential as the technology was the key hook for the media campaign.
- Invite leaders from the industry analyst community to meet with Cool Earth Solar executives, visit its offices and observe the early prototypes in order to secure key media references and third-party validation.
- Educate the industry and the public on the need for a scalable solution to address the global energy crisis.
- Establish CEO Rob Lamkin as a thought leader in the field of solar energy through an aggressive speaking program.
From the beginning, Schwartz produced meaningful, tangible PR results for Cool Earth Solar. With no specific product announcements, Schwartz secured coverage in key business, energy, green and blog outlets, including Forbes, Fortune, San Jose Mercury News, Huffington Post, TIME, The Economist, East Bay Business Times, San Francisco Business Times, TriplePundit, CNET, Fortune’s “Green Wombat” blog, Renewable Energy World, GreenTech Media and Planet Green’s “Focus Earth”.
Overall, since Cool Earth Solar began its work with Schwartz, the company has received coverage in more than 100 media and blog outlets.
Analyst outreach has been another key component of Schwartz’s work with Cool Earth Solar. To date, Cool Earth Solar executives have met with a number of influential analysts, and have already been included in Gartner’s “Cool Vendors” report.
The speaking program has met all of its goals, securing opportunities for CEO Rob Lamkin at five leading industry events, including Fortune Brainstorm Green and the Cleantech Forum, further establishing the company as an industry leader.
In its first six months with Schwartz, Cool Earth Solar has already evolved from a curious technology to a recognized innovator and “company to watch” in the renewable energy and solar industry. Due to its high profile and sustained visibility, the company has been able to hire a veritable “who’s who” of Bay Area talent, laying the foundation for its aggressive build out plans in 2009 and beyond.