Eating Your Own Dog Food - The Energy Dept. Forgets Basic PR Lesson
I think it's fair to say that most companies or organizations at some point have experienced disconnect between what they sell and how they operate - it can be challenging to keep the causes aligned.
Earlier this week The New York Times reported that The Energy Department has not implemented basic smart meter thermostats into its own buildings, which if installed properly, could power 9,800 homes each year and save the agency $11.5 million in energy costs!
I don't know about you, but I consider this one major oversight.
The New York Times kicks off the article by saying "The Energy Department strives to be a leader in championing energy efficiency. Its Web site lists energy-saving tips, while Secretary Steven Chu calls conservation one of the department’s most important goals. But at many of the agency’s buildings, even at national laboratories where talented scientists seek technological breakthroughs to save energy, the department has failed to use one of the most effective tools available to any ordinary household: thermostats that automatically dial back the temperature when nobody is around."
This is somewhat embarrassing and ridiculous that no one bothered to notice what steps the department had taken internally to help save energy and costs. I guess some of the equipment was installed, but it was not working. Yes, I can see how this happened, but I guess my message is this isn't just an operational failure - it's a PR failure and PR teams needs to insert themselves however they can to avoid these fiascoes.
I think this is particularly relevant for the hundreds of companies that are jumping into the clean tech market as demand for green technology increases and the federal government helps foot the bill. Investors and vendors across multiple industries are seeing $$ signs as the green trend takes hold, yet reporters are seeing a new level of hypocrisy occurring among these companies - and they are quite motivated to report on these oversights.
So my advice to clean tech/green companies (and companies in other industries) is to ensure you re-read your company's customer mission statement and core values - and make sure the company is adhering to these internally. PR teams really need to remind their executive teams of the potential fall-out for these types of stories. If it can happen to the Energy Department, it can surely happen to a public or private company in the private sector - especially with the media's skepticism around green marketing and products.