With four weeks until the U.S. elections and clean tech a trending theme in political dialogue, it’s the perfect time to think about how to communicate. Last month at Solar Power International in Orlando, I saw Bill Clinton take the stage and share his thoughts, urging clean tech professionals to “get the basic facts in front of the American people.”
“Make sure the candidates know what you’ve done and what policy helped you do it. Provide visible manifestations of progress. And do what you can with what you’ve got right now.” Why is this so important right now? Apart from elections being around the corner and important policy decisions looming, misinformation is a serious problem, and it’s mainstream.
Despite consistently positive news, which keeps us busy at Edelman Clean Tech, unfounded criticisms are leveled against the industry, from accusations of government waste to suggestions that it hasn’t helped our country. Yet we continue to see our amazing clients develop impressive technologies. And it’s not surprising when you can provide a new, sustainable source of zinc and lithium or produce an EV battery that holds three times as much energy and could cut battery cost in half.
However, in any economy, and especially a recovering one, not every company succeeds. Disappointingly, some of the higher profile challenges in the clean tech industry have been mistaken as representative of the sector as a whole. Meanwhile the clean tech industry has continued to contribute to growth in the United States, adding jobs to the economy (in both red and blue states!) and new technology to invest in for our future.
The Clinton Global Initiative held its annual meeting last week covering this theme as it focused on “Designing for Impact”, which addressed the ways clean technology can spur economic development. Several announcements were made highlighting clean tech and its contributions, including awards to new, innovative green businesses around the globe in partnership with the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge 2013. An American company won top prize this year, but we need to continue to foster an environment friendly to clean tech if we expect the U.S. to stay relevant, and communication is at the core of how will ensuring that happens.
It might be an uphill battle, but President Clinton was right in his assessment that we need to get the basic facts out there and again when he told the audience at Solar Power International that “you just can’t be deterred”. Whether it means partnering with Edelman Clean Tech to communicate your company’s story or sharing news from EnergyFactCheck.org, there’s a lot that you can do to bring clarity to the dialogue.
Following elections, it won’t be time to slow down. Keep an eye out for Edelman’s participation at the Clean Tech Open, which has 581 participating companies in its accelerator programs and has raised more than $660 million in external capital. The Clean Tech Open’s 2012 Global Forum in San Jose, CA will bring together entrepreneurs, the investment community, and like-minded business leaders that will not be deterred.