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Media Toolkit

Working with all forms of media is a critical component of advocacy and public education. SEIA works to spread information about the growth and impact of solar energy in the United States, but we can't be everywhere at once. This toolkit provides guidance on how to effectively communicate about the value of solar, work with news media and other channels, and share the good news about solar in your local community.

Engaging with Traditional Media

We've provided few tips to help you get the most out of your work with the media. Your success getting news coverage is good for all of us in the industry. Should you have a big announcement where you could use SEIA’s help, don’t hesitate to let us know what we can do.

We work with the media in a number of ways with the ultimate goal of securing positive coverage for the industry. We err on the side of being aggressive, but we also are very strategic when engaging with the media. When approaching journalists – reporters, editors, producers, or someone else – we recommend a few things to give you the best opportunity to get coverage:

  • Be dispassionate. No matter what you are contacting them about, make your case without taking a hard line that can turn off a reporter. Their job is to be a neutral source and to report information accurately. Anything that tests this makes you a complication that’s easy to cast aside.
  • Be clear and persuasive. Whenever you engage the media, explain why the issue is important to their audience , in lay terms, and set the context to make it clear why they should care. Many reporters these days are stretched, so connect the dots wherever possible to highlight what’s at stake. Is there a larger issue or trend at play?
  • Be succinct. Reporters are pitched constantly and need to quickly understand “why” so they can determine their interest in a story. Keep emails short and get to the point quickly if you speak to them by phone.
  • Be timely. If it’s old, it’s not news. Any time you are trying to get their attention, your issue has to be fresh.

Pitching a Story

Tips for Pitching Stories

We strongly recommend taking time to identify the right reporter and ensuring that their media outlet could conceivably cover the news you are pitching. Not doing your homework and contacting the wrong reporter can turn off that reporter and cause your future pitches to get ignored.

While there are times it’s appropriate to blast your press release to a group of media, it is more effective to contact them individually. In your pitch note:

  • Grab them with a short, compelling subject line
  • Personalize the message where possible
  • Follow the suggestions above. Consider in your pitch answer (without being overt): Why would their reader or listener care?
  • Let us know if we can help with Intel on individual reporters.
Additional Tips
  • Take advantage of being a company with a local angle, whether that’s where you’re headquartered or have projects. Use that and tailor your pitches to local/regional news outlets.
  • Solar and energy industry trade publications are typically good targets for corporate news because they can quickly grasp its impact.
  • Only pitch news wires like AP, Bloomberg and Reuters when you have hard, breaking news.
  • Only pitch reporters at major dailies like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal with major news that affects many people nationally and ideally is part of a larger trend.

Submitting an Op-ed

Tips for Submitting Op-eds

Every op-ed has to argue for something and include a call to action — typically within the first few sentences. Also it is important to introduce tension. They are less likely to publish marketing or advocacy pieces. Follow the guidance in the Approach section and especially work on being persuasive and even provocative. Op-eds generally should be 500 to 700 words in length. It should not be wonky or technical, unless you intend to place the op-ed in a trade media outlet or journal where this applies. (They should not directly reply to another op-ed — that’s what LTEs are for. See below.)

Note: Op-eds take time to get published. It’s rare that an op-ed is accepted and published within the same business week.

Pitching an Op-ed

The opinion editor is usually the person to contact. Op-eds are almost always exclusive, so offer the piece to one media outlet at a time – and make clear it’s an exclusive for them. A good subject line is: Exclusive op-ed: [4-5 words describing topic]. Email the opinion editor first; you may call after a few hours. Most daily newspapers have a contact page with contact instructions; if they don’t, you can try googling “opinion editor” and “outlet name.” You should use emails with the staffer’s name, rather than “opinion@.” Some outlets suggest you submit the op-ed through a form, but this usually does not lead to placement.

Submitting a Letter to the Editor

Tips for LTEs

The purpose of an LTE is typically to respond to an article that you support or disagree with. They can sometimes be used to comment on a current issue being debated by policymakers.

When working on an LTE, the rules are similar to an op-ed, only the copy is much shorter – roughly 150 to 250 words. In most cases, you will be pitching an LTE to a daily newspaper; almost all have contact information on their webpage describing how to submit your letter. Look at LTEs that the paper has run to see their format. The standard format is to begin your LTE by referencing the article you are commenting on, e.g. Re: “[title of article]” – and then make your case.

Desk Side Meetings

For journalists that are very important to helping you reaching your audience, it may make sense to meet them at their office or on the sidelines of a conference to build your relationship. This can help establish you as a source when they work on future stories, and make them more likely to cover you when you do have news.

Tips:

  • We recommend doing this with select media targets. A good place to start is with any media who covers you closely who you believe should know more about you.
  • Give them something fresh (news, data or some analysis). Use the meeting to plant story ideas – even if you may be only part of the story.
  • Offer to help reporters with any stories they are working on. Your company has experts who understand the sector and local markets. Offer that expertise, rather than solely pitching them on your company.

Messaging & Talking Points

Click here for resources that will help hone your message when communicating about the value of solar

Clean Energy Jobs are #AmericanJobs

We have an unprecedented opportunity this year to enact bold federal policies that can transform the U.S. clean energy economy — but only if we do our part. SEIA is mobilizing a nationwide campaign to advocate for policies that will create jobs, increase solar deployment, and bring the benefits of clean energy to communities across the country.

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Mastering Social Media

Social media channels are a critical tool in today's digital world. SEIA can help you optimize your content for online outreach.

Promoting Solar on Social Media

Social media is a far-reaching tool that speaks to many different audiences. It's important to approach each platform in a distinct way and tailor your content to achieve strategic goals. Whether you're hoping to communicate to the solar community or to outside audiences, these general guidelines should help. 

Below are some suggested content types for the main social media platforms:

  • Facebook: advocacy campaigns, relevant articles, new data & resources
  • Twitter: industry news, brand marketing, event promotion, new data & resources, calls-to-action
  • LinkedIn: job recruiting, targeted industry content, workforce development
  • Instagram: visual campaigns, life at the organization, reporting on events, evergreen visual content

General guidelines:

  • Get to the point and feel free to be casual.
  • Delight with good news when available, and motivate when concerns arise.
  • Be timely and appropriate. It's important to be mindful of events and conversations that command the public attention, and avoid any promotional or irrelevant content during these moments.
  • Use relevant tags and hashtags for consistency and increased visibility.
  • Use imagery, graphics and links whenever possible and applicable
Don't know who to follow? Check out our Twitter lists
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Suggested Tweets

We have a historic opportunity to pass bold legislation to address the #climate crisis and create hundreds of thousands of #AmericanJobs. It’s time for Congress to act. seia.org/AmericanJobs
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Americans overwhelmingly support #solar energy and infrastructure investments. @SEIA is urging Congress to take action to strengthen and decarbonize the grid and rebuild our economy with well-paying #AmericanJobs seia.org/AmericanJobs
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Policies that support #solar and #storage will help our economy recover and drive private-sector job creation. This is an investment in America’s future, and we’re urging Congress to take action. #AmericanJobs
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Leverage Your SEIA Membership

Premium membership with SEIA can help your brand reach new audiences and promote the growth of solar on a national scale.

SEIA Amplifies Your Reach

Are you going to be featured in a story about solar? With more than 75,000 followers on Twitter and more than 6,000 visitors each month to our news and blogs pages, SEIA has a vast reach and is considered a reputable source of information about the solar industry. Let us know when you are featured in an article and we can help push the story out to our followers. Contact your Account Manager or email us at membership@seia.org for more information.

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SEIA's Public Relations Committee

Our PR Committee, which meets on a bi-weekly basis, coordinates national industry messaging, press outreach and rapid response to promote the benefits of solar energy. This committee represents all solar technologies and market segments and is made up of companies that are interested in having a greater impact on the discourse surrounding the hot topics that affect our industry. Members of this committee have increased opportunities to co-brand with SEIA through solicitations for images and videos of installations with watermarked logos during various press campaigns. Check out our membership levels page for more information and contact our membership team to learn more about how to get involved!

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