We work with a lot of high tech and cleantech companies, and as such we have to get under the skin of the technology in order to explain the benefits. We do this by asking a lot of questions. We also research competing technologies and the industry in general. We never cease to be amazed by how much isn’t communicated when you get into the detail.
The media is where we first learn about different technology, what it can do, who is the market leader and so on. For our clients, getting national coverage is often the holy grail of PR success. But what if that information is only half the story… and how would you even know? This is why we rely on the expert technology journalists from leading publications to ask the hard, difficult questions, and present the honest truth. The problem comes when even they don’t understand the underlying technology to know what are the challenging questions to ask.
Technology is moving at such an incredible pace that we all focus on the problem it solves and what it can do, but rarely delve deeper and challenge the potential draw backs. Take battery storage as an example, which was highlighted by the government’s recent Faraday Challenge announcement. Business Secretary Greg Clark announced the first phase of the government’s plan to kick start the UK’s nascent battery revolution with a £246m boost to develop expertise in battery technology.
The government and Ofgem have stated that they will assess the need for more “proactive communications” on smart energy to educate and inform the public. In our view there is a huge need to inform the public.
There are a lot of untruths told about domestic battery storage, such as exaggerated claims regarding the economics of buying a battery storage system. Unfortunately, even tech journalists don’t know the right questions to ask, so how can we expect the public to know?
The media should be asking more challenging questions, not only about battery life span, but how the system actually works in terms of capturing and releasing energy as this is the key to an efficient battery storage system.
The truth is that most of the systems on the market today react too slowly to changes in energy demand, which means you may end up buying energy from the grid to store in your battery or taking energy from the battery and putting it back out onto the grid again.
There is a lot of information comparing various ‘market leading’ systems, but do the feature lists mean anything? Without a deeper understanding of the technology, we will not be able to ask the right questions. There is a tendency to assume that bigger, established brands have the best technology. We need to unlearn all that we think we know, and relearn the right questions to ask before we all get caught up in a brand war and end up with technology that is incapable of doing what it says on the tin.