In 2019, the energy industry in Canada employed and supported more than 800,000 people, making up 10% of the country’s GDP. These impressive numbers point to a strong and resilient industry – but, as with most industries, they were hit hard in 2020 through pandemic shutdowns.
As the economy recovers, the time is right to not only replicate past accomplishments but improve them with a new approach and fresh eyes. For the industry to flourish and reach beyond past potential, it must face the future with open arms and continue to innovate.
Producers and Current Trends
Even before the pandemic, one of the biggest cultural shifts happening in energy was the green revolution – the rise of solar, wind, geothermal, and other sources of energy generation. These numbers are growing steadily, with hydro, solar, and wind generation creating 78,000, 1.8, and 9.7 megawatts in 2014, and 82,000, 3.1, and 12.8 megawatts in 2018, respectively. They still lag behind fossil fuels, but the consistent rises herald the future of the industry – and why embracing its potential will be crucial for success.
COVID interrupted the adoption of this technology, presenting a unique opportunity to create a more fulsome and ingrained pivot toward recovery. After all, traditional and newer energy sources are two sides of the same coin – they need each other to scale properly and to meet the needs of an expanding population. Solar panels and wind turbines cannot be built without gasoline and existing electrical sources to power the manufacturing plants; but the fundamental flaw of fossil fuels is coming into play a little more with every passing year: as a non-renewable resource, its time has always been limited. With Shell opening discussions on the end of its own peak oil production, the time has never been better to focus forward and shift the narrative for the public.
Challenges for the Energy Industry
In an industry as broad and far-reaching as energy, there are unique challenges to address. Climate concerns dominate many conversations, with new discussions of net-zero emissions targets and green technology emerging daily; resources are getting more difficult and more expensive to reach, as the most cost-effective reserves have been tapped already. The most notable challenge is public perception – especially the idea that energy companies pursue only profits to the expense of everything else. The ramifications extend beyond everyday conversations, too: Shell recently lost a ruling against climate activists about its emissions targets.
What does this mean? Energy companies face an uphill battle to engage not only with their customers and stakeholders, but with the court of public opinion. The good news: there are stories waiting to be told. For decades, oil and gas organizations have led the way in innovative technology, more efficient energy solutions, and an unrelenting atmosphere of constant improvement brimming with potential. These stories exist; they just aren’t loud enough.
Successful Marketing in the Energy Industry
Planning for the Future
Moving forward, the key to success in energy comes down to marketing for the future, highlighting a commitment to the rapidly approaching revolution. New developments like carbon capture technology, cleaner batteries, and smart energy management in urban settings are the tip of the iceberg. If you want people to support you, join you, and promote you, it’s time to focus more on a bright future, instead of a storied past.
Connecting with Customers
Consumers in the modern world have considerations beyond the simple cost of the products and services they buy. They want stories: does this company share my values and beliefs? Do they align with the goals I attribute to these philosophies? Every industry has its diehard supporters, but explaining to outliers why your brand suits them is crucial in creating a strong base to build from.
Sending the Right Message
There are more tools than ever before to tell the right story to the public, and that public is eager for information and innovation alike. With a properly planned content strategy, the most important points of the industry, its accomplishments, and its ideas can be told. It sounds simple, but this involves finding the right core messages and delivering it to the right people, while avoiding formulaic missteps and cliches that many people come to expect from corporate communications. Submitting publications like ESG reports detailing what your organization does for society beyond business operations can be a major benefit for this.
Collaborate with Other Organizations
Throwing support behind other organizations can bolster your position. Government agencies, non-profit organizations, complementary companies – all of these can help enhance your public image. Decide how you want to be seen, and find partners that will align with your vision. This will help you get where you want to be. This can also reinforce strengths and mitigate weaknesses.
All of this works well in theory, but how do these concepts translate into practice? In a follow-up, we’ll dive deeper into one of these elements and illustrate how you can apply it to your own operations. We are entering a business world where plans can change quickly, which will require unprecedented adaptability and strong, clear communications about your values and decisions – and all of that begins by identifying not only where you are, but where you want to be in the future.