Thursday, March 15, 2007

Technology PR or Energy PR?

In the last six months we have seen the environment come back on the agenda with a bang. This has caused almost every major company to look at its 'green quotient.' Now for some businesses this simply means making themselves carbon neutral but for others it means changing the products they sell and some cases rethinking the competition. Take companies such as Cisco and Polycom who both offer pretty sophisticated video conferencing solutions. Whereas these systems were at best hokey (and horribly expensive) a few years ago, they are fast becoming usable and affordable, thus causing the airlines to take note. Now if you had said a few years ago that United Airlines biggest competitor would be a technology company people would have patted you on the back and changed the subject. Of course just about every major tech company is now looking at its product set and asking: "can we make it use less energy?" or "will this solution save the customer some energy?" This is changing the very messaging of the major tech firms and many smaller ones, putting energy up near the top of the list. The other big shift has been the shifting interests of the major VCs towards clean tech investments. John Doerr and Vinod Kholsa in particular are making big steps in this direction with huge investments in areas like bio fuels. These people are of course expecting their marketing partners to make the same shift, meaning that PR businesses that were announcing servers and embedded chip controllers a few years ago are now discussing the merits producing ethanol from corn, versus sugar cane or even trees.

Now this could all just be a passing phase and as one senior PR executive said to me yesterday, the media is already getting a little tired of writing about how company x is going green. But what does appear to be clear is that the tech market and energy market are converging. So any self respecting PR executive that is currently making a living from tech PR had better start learning about the dynamics of the energy market, because in one way or another its going to affect them quite significantly in the years ahead.

4 comments:

Jerry Grasso said...

Maybe some journalists are tiring about writing about how companies are going green...but business editors/writers never tire of writing about VC and where it is flowing...and if those companies start redefining what green products are and what a green company is...well then?

Of course, these are the early years and some time and energy (no pun intended) by great dollars and great minds need to be spent entreprenuer-ing and figuring out how to get rich doing this....

remco said...

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Andy Drinkwater said...

The real question I suppose is whether the public really buy into the green message, particularly from commercial organisations. Take the recent M&S publicity blitz around their target of becoming 'carbon neutral' by 2012. Do they really want to save the planet or is it just to attract customers. I think we all know the answer...Love the blog by the way.

Andy Drinkwater said...

Should have said (for US readers) M&S = Marks and Spencer, one of the UK's biggest high street retailers...