As anyone in the communications industry knows, great relationships with your brand’s influencers (you know, those analysts, reporters and public figures who are deeply involved in your company’s issues, industries and conversations) are vital to any successful campaign. But also as any communications pro knows, identifying exactly who the most prominent of these influencers are, and how much weight each carries in specific discussion circles, is half of the battle.
Today, Text100 released its first Digital Index: Energy, determining the most visible U.S. influencers in the energy industry – the very folks who shape how we view, react to and perceive different energy technologies and companies. In a partnership with Statsit, Text100 evaluated the top influencers among politicians, journalists and analysts, determining the influential members of each group based on social and traditional media prominence.
So why exactly do influencers matter? Well, take a look at all of the hoopla happening in the energy industry lately around the election. Do you notice that the way most people perceive each candidates’ stance on energy policy is strikingly different than what President Obama or Governor Romney would actually like it to be? Both candidates maintain an “all of the above” energy policy, incorporating America’s oil and gas resources, wind and solar power, and other sources of generation. This welcoming and incorporating message should make all industries happy, right?
Not so fast. As most of us have seen, social media and journalism have shaped and changed elections. People don’t take what candidates say at face value anymore. Instead, more and more of us are looking to our favorite journalists, bloggers and other influential figures to analyze what a candidate says, along with their past history and actions (thanks Google Archives and Wikipedia!), and match it up against their words to determine their true colors and intentions. And where this used to take investigative journalists weeks to pursue, today’s new age of influencers can do this in real time – using the wealth of digital information at their fingertips to disseminate facts, views, and opinions, and swaying who we vote for on that fateful Tuesday in November.
This plethora of outside conversations has caused both candidates’ “all of the above” stances to be taken with a grain of salt. Obama’s quiet efforts to invigorate a green revolution (his $90 billion stimulus for clean technologies and strict efficiency standards, among other things) have been brought to the surface by these influencers and used to paint him as a “Green” president – despite his continued efforts to emphasize the record production of fossil fuels under his tenure. And despite Romney’s promise to slash red tape around renewables and praise of the lower emissions natural gas offers, he’s often portrayed and perceived among bloggers and journalists as a huge advocate of burning more fossil fuels, regarded among green advocates as one of the quickest paths to climate disaster.
Social media has also provided an enormous stage for other politicians to reach a wider group, rallying citizens around specific issues. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Harry Reid (D-NV) were found to be the heaviest perception shapers, particularly around the Keystone Pipeline, ultimately contributing to the public’s perception of how much each party (and subsequently, their candidate) supports drilling, fracking and natural gas. And as far as who stands behind certain energy issues, whose driving progress in the clean technology industries, and how our future dependency on oil is looking, you can turn to Eric Wesoff, Andrew Restuccia, David Roberts and Jonathan Fahey, among others, for perspective on how these movements – and the political action behind them – tie into our political future. Wesoff in particular, through his blog at Greentech Media, has proven an invaluable catalyst for mobilizing audiences around issues, and driving them to the top of industry discussions and agenda.
And what PR pro can forget about analysts? As one of the most crucial elements of an influencer campaign, analysts take the time to fully research the issues and provide balanced perspective; elevating their credibility. Analysts such as Christine Tezak of ClearView Energy Partners (formerly of Baird Research) and Sam Jaffe of IDC Energy Insights gave heavy attention to issues such as coal emissions, domestic drilling, energy storage and electric vehicles, pushing the importance of these discussions up in the minds of the media and the public.
Want to learn more about how politicians, reporters and analysts have moved certain energy issues to the forefront of our minds, and shaped how we view everything from our next President to what kind of car we want to drive? Read the full press release here or click here to check out our new Digital Index for yourself.