“Climate change,” “climate infrastructure,” and “climate tech” are buzzwords swarming Washington DC and state capitals. As the Biden Administration pushes for sustainable infrastructure investment, states are looking for policies that boost economic activity and prevent environmental disaster. This gives climate tech companies an opportunity to engage policymakers, assert political relevance, and unlock government funding.
As an agency that helps cleantech brands realize their influence and capture policymaker attention, we’ve put together our top three tips for connecting with decision makers in the space.
1. Be clear about why your company is relevant to political actors
Policymakers are busy and appreciate concise, direct communications. With this in mind, climate tech companies should clearly outline their long term goals, an implementation timeline, and scalability.
Media appearances and op-eds in political outlets are direct and simple ways to appear relevant to leaders in politics. Aligning with other interest groups where policies and interests are complimentary could also strengthen your company’s influence potential. For example, a climate tech CEO who co-authors an op-ed with another industry leader can demonstrate greater reach and partnership. Climate tech leaders can also demonstrate relevance to political decision makers by joining advocacy efforts with national trade associations like SEIA, SEPA or ESA or local associations such as CALSSA or MDV-SEIA.
2. Remain party-neutral; don’t be afraid to talk to a wide range of people
Inclusiveness is key when targeting policymakers. We recommend seeking strategic media placements in outlets spanning the political spectrum and framing your arguments differently based on the audience you’re speaking to.
For conservative audiences, we recommend making appearances on conservative radio (e.g. WBAP AM or WABC AM), writing op-eds in right-leaning newspapers (e.g. The New York Post or Wall Street Journal), and securing placements on conservative cable news stations (such as Fox News). For more liberal audiences, we recommend targeting liberal cable news networks (such as MSNBC or CNN), writing op-eds in left-leaning publications (e.g. The New York Times or Politico), and being active in their media ecosystem. Crooked Media or Vox podcasts (e.g. The Weeds or Pod Save America), for example, will have audiences who are receptive towards climate tech innovation and sustainability agendas.
In general, we recommend focusing on evidence and facts rather than the politics that surround them. If your company is seen as a partisan institution, it could narrow your audience, prevent legislatures in enacting certain policies, and ultimately, inhibit long-term success.
3. Appeal to national and local interests simultaneously
When possible, position your product or service as a solution for multiple problems — appealing to both national and local interests. For example, will implementing your proposal help decarbonize industrial manufacturing on a national scale and create more jobs in Houston? Then, target media outlets accordingly.
Of course, some politicians are difficult to reach and not easily persuaded by media appearances alone (whether national or local). In these cases, a media campaign directed at relevant local audiences and voters can be more effective at getting their attention. When communicating to local voters, lead them in the direction of the solution. This can include a call to action to call or write to government officials, protesting, or writing first-person testimonials as to how a climate tech company would help their community.
In summary, it’s the perfect time to be a climate tech policy nerd.
Climate tech companies are in the process of gaining political power. With infrastructure and climate plans consuming political circles right now, climate tech companies have political relevance like never before. This can be new terrain for many companies. It also presents a great opportunity for the industry to grow and establish themselves among traditional industry leaders.