This is a very exciting time for companies with sustainable green solutions as we have never in our nation’s history had the conversation nor desire to increase energy efficiencies as much as we do today. Regardless of political affiliation, you have to give credit to the current administration for getting renewable energy and Smart Grid technologies out of R&D and into the field. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 has allocated $40 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs with an additional $11 billion to make the electrical grid “smart.” Private sector companies are also helping to fund pilot projects – everything from smart meters and Smart Grid communications to electrical vehicles, flywheels, intelligent battery systems (Lithium-Ion), biomass, fuel cells, solar and wind farms to name a few. As someone who has been promoting energy efficiency and power quality solutions for the past two decades, it’s very exciting to see the technological advancements and willingness to bring these solutions to the marketplace. It’s also inspiring to see our national defense incorporating clean energies such as solar and energy storage systems at Forward Operating Bases that vastly reduce the amount of fuel consumption, transport logistics and casualties in fuel convoys. And, green combat vehicles are on the horizon too – think Prius on steroids.
Our clients including Eaton, EcoDog, International Battery, Marway, VYCON and others are leading the charge in developing solutions that increase energy efficiencies, store solar and wind energy, improve power quality from the grid, monitor and manage electricity and help homeowners reduce their electrical bills with smart home energy management technology. We’re very proud of our clients’ skills, dedication and vision to help our society reduce our dependence on foreign oil and to be more smart about our energy consumption. The road ahead will be challenging, but by continual education and clearly demonstrating an attractive return on investment (ROI), our clients and many other companies will succeed in getting our nation on the path to energy security and freedom.
For months the internet has been a playground for gossip and rumors surrounding the impending announcement of the new iPhone. While skimming through blog sites such as the Wall Street Journal, Engadget, Today’s iPhone, and Phonedog, it was remarkable how much buzz surrounded the new device. Many reports suggested that the new iPhone would boast a larger screen size, a new unibody aluminum design and a touch sensitive home screen. Even the devices name was in question: is it going to be the “iPhone 5” or the “iPhone 4S”? In August, CNET even posted an exclusive report entitled “Apple Loses Another Unreleased iPhone”– an unlikely incident reminiscent of last year’s missing iPhone 4 prototype.
While technofiles spend a lot of their time generating hype for upcoming products, very few companies can generate quite as much excitement as Apple. It’s really a company that thrives on the viral nature of the Internet and media, showing the true benefit of PR. With the media reporting on every little rumor, leak, product shot, and whisper, excitement from the consumers grows.
For example, yesterday marked the “Let’s Talk iPhone” keynote at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California. Leading up into the presentation there were still a lot of questions on what Apple would present. To watch the announcement I went to Engadget.com. Within my first five attempts to refresh the live blog, Engadget’s site crashed due to the volume of readers. I took note of the site crashing as it was not a common occurrence.
While the overall product announcement was underwhelming, there is no doubt that the new iPhone will sell like hot cakes. Even if Apple didn’t provide the market with what it was expecting, the amount of hype Apple’s viral marketing generated was impressive. With publications like the Wall Street Journal, Wired Magazine, and CNET covering the new iPhone for months, it’s the type of publicity that money can’t buy. There’s nothing like Free Ink!
Having just returned from the Modern Day Marine Show in Quantico, VA, I am excited about all the energy efficiency and smart (the word alternative is not relevant any more) energy solutions that were on display. From generators, ruggedized uninterruptible power supplies to solar and energy storage systems, the show was replete with energy efficient power systems. The Marines’ objective of reducing dependence on petroleum products through energy generation and energy distribution improvements was very clear during the expo.
One interesting demonstration was held by our client International Battery in conjunction with HDT Global. On display was HDT’s innovative shelters (large tents) for Forward Operation Bases (FOBs). These shelters are pretty amazing. A large shelter equipped with communications, flat panel screens and environmental systems can be set up in just a few of hours. As part of the demonstration, International Battery showed how its Lithium-ion batteries can provide power to vital communications and electronic systems equipped inside HDT’s Base-X® Model 303expeditionary shelter. The demo simulated how just two of International Battery’s NPS 160 8 kilowatt-hour battery modules can capture 1600 watts of solar power within HDT’s Balance of Systems Unit (BOS) expeditionary power system. This capability is very important as the remote locations of FOBs create significant challenges for logistics support of combat operations. These FOBs are dependent on long-distance deliveries of significant quantities of bulk fuel. Convoy routes through unsecured areas are frequently hazardous and transport is expensive. The delivered cost of fuel can easily total ten to a hundred times its original purchase price. FOBs can now advance their sustainability goals by incorporating energy efficient technologies such as solar, wind and energy storage systems. The NPS 160 enables storage of solar and/or wind energy in a package substantially lighter than a typical lead-acid battery solution. The Lithium-ion battery also has greater than five times the cycle life of lead-acid batteries. Pretty impressive.
I wish I had more time at the expo as there was a lot to see. I look forward to next year’s event and bet there will be even more clean energy systems on display.
Both. Apple’s meteoric rise to become one of the most enviable (and richest) businesses in the world is quite an accomplishment. Once, making products relegated to mostly creative geeks serving a targeted niche, to now breaking the mold in consumer devices and driving sales to stratospheric levels, Apple has done so many things right; they’re too many to mention here. However, a couple of things really stand out to me. One is its understanding of customers now and well into the future —a stark contrast to the American car companies that lost to Japan because they didn’t talk to the consumer. Or if they did, they didn’t listen. Apple has and does listen. Not only that, they extrapolate into the future and build a vision for new products that breaks the previous mold and get folks so excited they’re willing to give up sleep and wait in long lines to get their hands on the latest device. Secondly, Apple is really smart in its marketing communications. We’ve known that Steve Jobs has been ill for some time and while some criticized Apple for not being as transparent regarding Steve’s health as they thought it should, Apple stayed the course and unveiled news when the most appropriate for Steve (and the company). The latest news was shocking but not unexpected and we all wish Steve Jobs the best. The pundits went on to say how the stock was going to tank, yadda, yadda. As of this post, Apple stock is up nearly $10 per share. Apple was prepared and has let us know more about Steve’s replacement, Tim Cook. And now it is pulling the curtain back even further and we’re learning about Apple’s head designer and creative talent, Jonathan Ive. (See AP story: Behind Apple’s products is longtime designer Ive http://yhoo.it/o9JvHi )
Instead of retreating from the bad news and going around in circles not knowing what to do – as too often companies do when faced with adversity – Apple has taken it head on with a communications strategy that matches its products – brilliant.
Recent and current news events are enough to make one hide his or her head in the sand and wait until everything passes over. It seems that many businesses have this same mindset. However, now is not the time to be frozen. It’s time to be excited and engaged for future opportunities. While budgets may be curtailed because of uncertainty, now is the perfect time to review how things can be improved – whether personally or professionally. When the recession first started and I thought news couldn’t get any worse, a client of ours said, “stop watching the news.” As a PR professional, that’s hard to do, but he had a great point. If everyone thinks the sky is falling-then it is. A positive fallout from all of the bad economic news is how many new entrepreneurs have emerged. As they say, when one door closes, another opens or oftentimes, many more doors open. I can speak to this with authority as I opened J&A in 1990 in the middle of a recession. People said to me, “Are you nuts?” And yet others said, “I can’t believe you haven’t done this sooner!”
My point is to stay true to what works and explore new ground. For businesses, take a look at your marketing communications and evaluate what’s working and what’s not. Are your value propositions clear and concise? Is your brand/product/service messaging getting to the right people? Are you convincing the media that you have a great story to tell? Are you maximizing your strategic partner relationships for joint marketing campaigns and/or events?
Challenging times like these are not about being the most creative, but more about getting back to basics and using tried and true methods that prove successful time and time again.