“Solar advocacy goal-setting…” This was the topic for the 1/4/12 of #SolarChat. For our first #SolarChat of the new year, representatives from the Solar Energy Industries Association joined us as guest panelists as we discussed action items the solar community can implement in 2012 to promote our cause.
One thing was clear during this hour-long chat: A strong sense of camaraderie exists within the solar circle. We all understand the necessity to make changes if our planet is to continue to thrive, and solar is one pathway to a better future. The individuals who make up the solar community are passionate and committed. However, passion will only take us so far. We also need the right kind of action and advocacy to spread the word about the benefits of solar.
For any of us to succeed individually, we first must succeed as a unit. Many of us are still in our own start-up phase, so taking on “extra curricular” tasks seems daunting. But we have no choice. A big piece of the solar success puzzle is taking those extra steps. That’s why this #SolarChat focused on creating more effective outreach and advocacy, to accomplish more in less time. Here are some of our thoughts on the topics discussed.
How we can make our solar voices heard loud and clear?
The truth will not just set us free; it will help us spread the word. Combat myths and misconceptions with facts; don’t assume that people already know the truth about solar and its many benefits.
What methods are most effective in influencing local lawmakers?
Make friends with lawmakers. Build up relationships before you need to contact them because of an issue. While Washington lawmakers are undoubtedly powerful, they are not the only avenue to change. Local contacts can be very effective, and it’s easier to forge relationships with them.
Enlist your neighbors, family, friends and customers to help spread the word about solar using calls, letters and petitions. SEIA offers many advocacy tools that can be customized to reach out to lawmakers quickly and easily, especially once you’ve already taken the time to develop relationships with decisionmakers.
Finally, get creative. For example, find ways to outline a zero cost solar project in a centralized municipal building. Lawmakers can’t argue with free electricity!
What strikes a chord with lawmakers?
It’s about the bottom line: cost savings, job creation and re-election. Solar installers, highlight any job openings or new hires. Tell your story!
Which story angles work best for mainstream media?
Stories sell. Look for the “wow” factor, what’s unique or moving or exciting about each solar installation. Celebrities with solar is always big news. Other effective story angles include new technology that even the uninitiated will look at and find intriguing, “before-and-after” solar stories, and service-oriented pieces that highlight facts about how and why to go solar in easy-to-understand language.
Know your message; keep it short and to the point, and stick to the facts. Get behind the headlines and tell the real story of solar.
If you are a member of SEIA (highly encouraged) you’ll find their new Advocacy and Outreach Resource Page extremely helpful.
The most effective lobbyists are committed, passionate believers — that would be us!
What solar goals have you set for 2012?