This week, David Rubin, director of service analysis at PG&E, wrote a piece at Greentech Media about PG&E’s stance on solar policy. It’s worth a read, if only to check out the impressive progress PG&E has made in integrating solar energy into its energy portfolio, to meet the aggressive mandates set by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
Although the piece is meant to be an overview of PG&E’s solar policy stance, it’s clear from a PR perspective the goal is to persuade readers on PG&E’s stance on net metering, the policy mechanism in California whereby utilities credit the bills of renewable energy system owners, for the excess energy they produce and pump into the grid.
This is likely in reaction to the CPUC in May to expand the net metering program, to include more capacity.
Below, we breakdown what Mr. Rubin, and likely his PR team, did right and wrong in this piece:
· The audience – the piece takes the argument directly to Greentech Media’s readers – ardent supporters of solar – to make the case. Too often PR practitioners fall into a pattern of “preaching to the choir,” where their efforts are focused on those that are already believers, instead of working to convince opponents or those that are indifferent. This piece takes the argument directly to the end of the spectrum that is in most need of an attitude shift, from PG&E’s perspective.
· Demonstrates overall solar support – The article provides an organic reason for Mr. Rubin to highlight PG&E’s significant support and progress for solar energy over the last decade.
· Call-to-action – Generally, Op Eds like these should end with some action the reader can take (vote for a candidate, buy a product, donate to a cause, etc.). Does he want them to call the CPUC to complain? Is he laying the groundwork for a bigger campaign to influence net metering policy? It’s unclear what Mr. Rubin wants readers to do here.
· Lack of participation –In the comments section, many readers have brought up some smart counterpoints to Mr. Rubin’s article, but he hasn’t chimed in yet, unfortunately. More than anything, readers appreciate authenticity, and to publish a piece but not engage in the comment section, you can quickly lose your captive audience.
Overall I think the piece is well written, and sent to the right audience, but the big question is what PG&E does next and how they try to build momentum to achieve their goals. Also, as a PR practitioner, I think anyone who is contributing should be willing to engage in comments, especially since for the most part they’re respectful and well thought out.
What do you think?
Posted by Dan O'Mahony on August 16, 2012 at 6:19 PM