SHV Energy Promo, Case study FUTURE OF RURAL ENERGY by Fleishman Hillard

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Industry Raw Materials & Minerals
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market Belgium
Agency Fleishman Hillard
Released September 2011

Credits & Description

Category: Public Affairs
Advertiser: SHV ENERGY
Group Public Affairs Manager: Andrew Ford (SHV Energy)
Senior Vice President/Senior Partner: Nick Andrews (Fleishman-Hillard)
Associate Director: Esther Busscher (Fleishman-Hillard)
Account Manager: Clara Lemaire (Fleishman-Hillard)
Account Executive: Ewa Abramiuk (Fleishman-Hillard)
Event Manager: Catherine Matheijs (Fleishman-Hillard)
Client Director: Carl Gibney (Fleishman-Hillard)
Public Affairs Advisor: Hanneke Verhelst (Fleishman-Hillard)
Managing Supervisor: Martin Becker (Fleishman-Hillard)
Media placement: Digital PR - EU SEW website - March 2011
Media placement: Special Report, banner campaign - EurActiv - 19 September 2011
Media placement: Microsite FREE report, google Adwords - - 19 September 2011
Media placement: Digital newsletter - - June 2011
Media placement: Digital newsletter - - October 2011
Media placement: Digital newsletter - - December 2011
Media placement: Digital newsletter - - February 2012
Media placement: LinkedIn Group - - November 2011
Media placement: Twitter - - March 2012
Media placement: Event - - 21 September 2011

Summary of the Campaign
What do you do if you have a winning argument but no one is listening? Why, change the debate, of course.
SHV Energy, a Dutch company and the world’s largest distributor of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG – bottled gas we all use in barbecues, heaters, etc.) had a problem. Decisions were being taken at a European level on an energy policy which could add millions to its business. Or not. Whilst LPG is an easy sell – relatively low emissions, no security of supply issues, the easiest back-up for alternative power sources like wind and solar – it was just too small a part of the energy mix (3%) to be taken seriously. Initially enthusiastic, policy makers would lose interest as soon as this was mentioned.

One thing that Europe does care about, though, is its countryside. From the French terroir to the German landschaft, rural communities matter. Over 50% of European citizens live in rural areas, on over 90% of its territory. A large number of these people are ‘off grid’ and rely on LPG (or the more polluting heating oil) for their energy. Many of them experience fuel poverty. And yet, energy policy was being written which largely ignored the needs of this core group. It was written by urban people for urban people.

With this, The Future of Rural Energy in Europe (FREE) movement was born. Armed with data and rapidly gathering political support and coalition partners, it sought successfully to build rural needs into the heart of European energy policy.

The Situation
SHV Energy is a Dutch, privately owned company and the largest global distributor of LPG (known in the US as propane). Prior to the FREE campaign it was virtually unknown in Brussels and the broader European policy community.

The opportunity, if provided, was for the European institutions to mandate renewable technologies in rural communities which would need LPG as back-up. The threat to the EU was that, in ignoring the needs of ‘off-grid’ citizens, they would leave them relying on unreliable power supplies, as well as aged and more polluting technologies.

The Goal
The goals, primarily, were to make European policy makers take notice of the FREE campaign, support it and regulate accordingly. Specifically, we wanted:
• To make the energy concerns of the rural community top of mind with European regulators;
• To establish and mobilise support for a clear set of ‘asks’;
• To build and broaden support for FREE throughout the key European markets;
• To ensure any regulation written was consistent with the FREE objectives.

The Strategy
Firstly, we had to introduce FREE to the policy audience. We had to combine a noise-making launch with extensive personal outreach to policy makers. We also had to make FREE ‘real’, creating both a virtual online presence and a real support base.

Next, we had to build support and momentum. The aim was to recruit like-minded organisations and individuals to the campaign, building a network of ‘Friends of FREE; to support the policy asks with newly sourced data; and to focus on energy solutions for a political audience, not just the problems.

Finally, we had to maintain (and are still maintaining) momentum and relevance as the energy policy agenda evolves.

The first ever Rural Energy Day launched the FREE campaign in Brussels. Attended by Commissioners and Directors General and several hundred policymakers and supporters, it instantly gave FREE a presence. A FREE website and suite of social media activities were simultaneously introduced, everything focusing on specially commissioned ‘FREE Solutions’ content, focusing on real testimonials from rural consumers.
Intensive one-one-one briefing programmes with policymakers were started, supported by originally commissioned research into rural energy and pollution patterns across 5 countries, newsletters and other materials. Activities ranging from a story-writing competition for Irish school children to the creation of a LinkedIn Group for rural supporters to a roving ‘Rural Energy Solutions’ exhibition were organised and widely publicised, demonstrating both scale and commitment for FREE.

Supporters and ‘Friends of FREE’ were recruited and a successful Call for Action on the Energy Efficiency Directive was launched, putting pressure on the regulatory process in Brussels.

Documented Results
We shaped regulation: 13 amendments in the European Parliament proposal for the Energy Efficiency Directive. This wrote rural areas into the proposed regulation and focused on micro co-generation, a key technology using LPG.

We created the rural energy issue: Rural Energy Day with over 300 participants, more than 8,000 visits to the research micro-site; 4,800 visits to the Euractiv Editorial Report; 4 newsletters to over 3,000 stakeholders across Europe; 20,000 visits to the FREE website, with 55,000 page views.

We built a FREE community: 25 companies and associations actively supporting FREE; a Linked-In Community of over 200; a Friends of FREE network, which includes MEPs prepared to suggest amendments in Parliament.