As more media outlets carve out dedicated beats for climate change and the energy transition, coverage is evolving to dive deeper and expand on topics. Additionally, the energy industry is starting to feel the impacts of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the largest climate investment in U.S. history. This has resulted in an influx of companies striving to share their energy-related stories with media. Significant points in time for the industry, like COP28, also mean that the media landscape gets inundated with companies tying their initiatives or messaging to major themes at the event.
Timing is crucial for pitching media around the COP, as we saw last year’s COP27 coverage drop significantly after the event. In the month leading up to COP27 in 2022, there were approximately 56,000 mentions compared to the nearly 5,000 in the month after.
If you want to take advantage of this moment in time for your media strategy, it’s best to approach COP28 as early as possible, with clear ties to why your news should matter to your media targets. Additionally, conducting outreach sooner rather than later will be key, as many U.S. reporters will be unplugged for Thanksgiving just before the event kicks off. PR pros can expect their time and attention to be even more constricted than usual.
Looming government shutdowns and unprecedented incidents like the Gaza conflict, ousting of former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, and the subsequent nomination of current Speaker of the House Congressman Mike Johnson are dominating media attention in this last quarter of the year. This competing coverage means you will have to be even more discerning about trending topics for COP28 to cut through the noise.
Here are four insights to leverage in your COP28 media outreach.
1. Highlight How You Are Scaling Renewables
This year, the conference will take place in the United Arab Emirates, with COP28 president Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber leading the event. Jaber, who was a controversial choice since he heads the United Arab Emirates oil company ADNOC, has already sparked conversations on whether fossil fuels will play a part in the energy transition.
The graph below visualizes what terms are appearing most often in coverage of COP28.
It is clear renewables are top of mind for reporters. And after a year of setbacks due to forced labor issues, tariffs, the need for increased mining of precious materials, permitting challenges, and interconnection queue woes, the feasibility of scaling renewable energy is a high-priority topic. You can grab reporter interest by showing tangible results of how your company is scaling or early results that show scaling possibility.
2. Offer A POV on Energy Security or Climate Finance
It’s been almost a year since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The conversation around energy security has remained front and center, especially as the E.U. continues to rely on exports and the Hamas conflict develops in Gaza. Many are using these examples of abrupt disruption in energy supply to approach COP28 with a more pragmatic, diverse energy approach that sees a role for traditional energy sources like liquid natural gas in the energy transition.
In addition to energy security, the loss and damage fund — a result from COP27— is weighted heavily in COP28 conversations. This year, participants are looking to define how this fund will actually operate (i.e. who collects money, who gives money, who receives).
Even if you don’t have something to say in relation to the fund, it’s clear that concrete results are leading the climate conversation. We’ve reached a relative consensus on the goal of a clean energy transition. The majority of organizations see the vision, but now we’ve turned to how we actually make that happen.
3. To ‘Phase-Out’ or to ‘Phase-Down’? That is the Question.
Because of the location and host of COP28, there is a reframing of the role fossil fuels play in the energy transition conversation as Net Zero deadlines and targets are approaching. While renewable operations have increased, it’s clear deploying on a larger scale is proving to be quite difficult. It has resulted in a nuanced conversation between “phasing out” versus “phasing down” fossil fuels to ensure energy demands are met in a society that continuously becomes more reliant on energy.
Whether you are Team Phase-Out or Team Phase-Down, consider how your company relates to either of these approaches. Media are likely interested in the nitty gritty of both approaches and will want insight on how they’re being applied realistically.
4. Connect Your Message with Leading Energy Bodies
Much of COP28 coverage is referencing reports from leading energy bodies. Consider tying why your company initiatives, activities, or vision align with reports from these agencies, especially related to predictions for the industry.
For more tips on engaging with clean energy reporters, check out more insights on how to engage in the energy transition conversation.