2/11/2012 5:13 PM
One of the more interesting programs Capitol Communicator attended recently was IABC DC/Metro's February chapter meeting where Monique Hanis, director of communications and spokesperson for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), and Robert Rehg, president of Edelman Washington, shared a case study of how the solar industry responded to the Solyndra crisis for the industry.
On Aug. 31, 2011, Solyndra announced bankruptcy. SEIA realized the significant impact this would be for the otherwise healthy industry. Multiple crisis management discussions and board meetings later, Edelman Washington, which specializes in reputation management, corporate communications and crisis and issues management, was engaged with the primary goal to insulate the solar industry without being seen as defending the company.
SEIA and Edelman used the crisis as an opportunity to educate people on the successes of the many small businesses providing green energy. The industry had grown five fold in five years. The quarter that Solyndra went out of business was the best quarter the industry ever. Over 100,000 Americans are employed in the industry and there are installations in all 50 states.
The crisis management plan included significant media outreach with op-eds, broadcast and radio ads inside the beltway, monitoring and rapid response and significant digital and social media engagement, especially to key conservative outlets. The three-month engagement delivered significant results towards changing negative opinion towards the viability of the solar energy industry.
- Develop crisis/rapid response protocols in advance
- Enlist a stable of supportive parties
- Develop as much template material as possible
- Identify team members across key areas
- Schedule regular check-in meetings
- Establish clear rules and assignments
- Focus – choose your battles
- Keep board and key internal audience informed
- Update crisis communications plan
Tigercomm was recognized as SEIA’s boutique communications firm and lauded for its teamwork during management of this crisis.