Edwin Bernays

PR Giant Edelman Cuts Ties With Oil Industry

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - This, I believe, is how societal change occurs. Even big changes happen a little bit at a time, unseen, below the surface, until suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, a big movement makes news.

The biggest influencers in our society are business, government, and the media. The movement towards increased transparency, facilitated by the media and the tremendous growth of the Internet, has forced business and government to become more responsive to prevailing opinion.

Sitting at the intersection of all these factors are the public relations firms. Founded after the second world war by Edwin Bernays, the nephew of Sigmund Freud, the fledgling science of PR was based on the discovery that men and women, when making  decisions, are generally influenced more by “unconscious fears and desires” than they are by facts. The exploitation of this discovery and the subsequent growth of the advertising industry has been a key driver of the American economy as consumers were led down a road that took them from buying what they need to buying what they want.

With the revelation of mankind’s role in destabilizing the Earth’s climate system surfacing, PR firms often found themselves on both sides of the issue, helping their clients promote whatever perspective was in their self-interest. But with the increasing level of transparency required of companies today, executives are finding themselves held accountable for the impact of not only their own actions, but those of their suppliers and their clients.

SmartPower Breaks the Solar Barrier With Their "Solarize" Campaign

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Brian Keane is a marketing guy. He understands how to sell things. And as president of SmartPower, a non-profit, solar marketing company, he knows how to sell residential solar to consumers.

When I spoke to him last week, he told me had had “cracked the code” on selling solar. He said he saw it as his job to sell solar power to “regular people” who will buy it, not as an expression of an identity or an ideology, but rather because it simply makes sense. Because, he said, “the fact that it's good for the environment is not a sufficient motivator for many people.”

That is proven out by the fact that 80% of Americans say they'd like to have solar, but only around 3% actually own it.

But Keane has found a way to turn that around. How does he do it? It's a marketing campaign that consists of on-the-ground outreach, by members of the community in which they are selling. In a sense it's as much a community organizing campaign as anything else.

Here's how it works. His organization creates a “Solarize” campaign at the state level. Right now they are working on Solarize Connecticut. They open a selection process to communities that are interested in promoting solar power. Then they solicit volunteers who will do the actual outreach. They stay in each community for 20 weeks.

Says Keane, “We're not recreating the grassroots field. We're simply organizing what's already there. And the grassroots outreach is not going door to door. We reach out to local organizations, church groups, etc. and let them do the outreach. If I'm a member of a local group and I get an email from our leader saying we have an opportunity to get a great deal on solar, I'm going to be a lot more open to that than if some stranger came knocking on my door.”

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