Bloom Energy's PR team (agency: OutCast Communications) kicked off what might be its "Best Week Ever" in VH1 terms on Sunday with a 60 Minutes segment before the product even formally launched. I've been following the coverage that's been steadily rolling in all week, which is pretty much the equivalent of trying to consume the Vermonster. What a launch!
It got me thinking - many cleantech companies out there are world-changing. What makes Bloom different? In the biz, we'd answer this with two words: "PR Assets." The tools you need to build the PR palace. Let's talk about Bloom's assets (somehow that sounds wrong, but stay with me):
- Well-known, supergenius CEO: K.R. Sridhar is no stranger to high-profile media coverage. The former NASA rocket scientist was covered by the New York Times in 2006, and pretty much every other major existing media outlet before the Bloom Box even existed.
- Big name VC backing (and big money, too): Kleiner Perkins (heard of 'em?) and others have dumped nearly $400 million into the company over the years, and Kleiner's own John Doerr laid it all out on the line by talking to the media about the company pre-launch on 60 Minutes.
- Big name customers who are willing to talk: Google, WalMart, eBay, Lockheed Martin. And- most importantly, they're willing to go on the record and don't have Coyote Ugly syndrome when the PR team calls in a favor and asks them to talk to the press.
- Cool product: Face it, the way we consume energy in this country is broke, and Bloom has an innovative way to fix it. And it works (that's important, too).
- Catchy name: Sure, many of us haven't seen a boom box since Lloyd Dobler's act of romantic desperation. Oh you're right, there was that kid in college who wouldn't leave home without it. Like it or not, the catchy name association has something to do with what makes the "Bloom Box" memorable.
- A certain "Je Ne Sais Quoi:" Before they had their big coming out party, Bloom was in super stealth mode. The mystique built up to the point where everyone was buzzing when they were ready to talk.
You don't need all of these assets to have a successful PR launch. In fact, most companies don't. But one or more of them is key to the ultimate goal of getting people to talk about you. Start with something like getting your beta customers excited about talking to the media. Get your CEO media trained and primed to talk about his or her "big idea." If your cleantech startup (or any kind of company, for that matter) is doing great things and has some solid evidence to back it up, chances are you could be deserving of a Bloom-like fame.