Target audiences Who do we need to reach

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With objectives now defined, it becomes necessary to deduce who must be influenced to achieve said objectives. As we have said, in a political campaign for renewable energy the final measure of success is legislative change. Therefore the decision-makers on policy — politicians — are the ultimate target audience. Nevertheless, things in politics rarely work linearly and there will be many individuals and groups along the way who feed into the path of influence of these decision-makers.

It is tempting to assume here that since renewables are great for saving the planet, if politicians only knew this they would definitely make the right decisions. Invariably, however, ministers are balancing many different considerations and external pressures, and above all are mindful of maintaining their position in power which entails a very different set of considerations. Thus, to affect decision-making at these levels, one must understand these politicians' situation and pressures and adapt strategies, messages and tactics accordingly.

The decision-makers

The key ministerial decision-makers are, of course, those with portfolios covering energy, the economy, environment and industry. All of these portfolios are crucial. Renewables obviously have environmental outcomes, and as labour-intensive industries create lots ofjobs, renewable legislation can also affect the cost of energy production which in principle affects the entire economy.

Having identified the decision-makers, we can start to define them in relation to our cause. We can consider who they are and their areas of interest or identification. We can understand what the balance of power between portfolios looks like and the key concerns we will need to address. All of this will help us derive the information that we will need to develop and convey our key messages. However, we will also need to identify the obstacles that decision-makers will face if and when they do set about installing the required legislation. This will shape the campaigns that will need to be run by the various renewables proponents.

In a perfect world, renewable energy proponents would walk into the Prime Minister's office where the ministers offinance, industry, energy and environment would be assembled waiting for a thorough briefing. The renewable industry representatives would convince them of all aspects and present the perfect package of policy measures for success. These would be legislated forthwith and a bright and glorious future for renewables would soon blossom. However, although it is essential that the industry get in front of decision-makers (one would be surprised how often they do not) in fact advice from industry forms only part of the input those ministers consider. The next step is to know the other sources of their advice.

Who will the decision-makers listen to?

So who are these individuals or groups that lie in this mysterious path of influence? It is probably easiest to expand from the centre of influence outward. First we have influencers inside politics or the bureaucracy; second we have influencers from outside politics; and third we have the public.

Influencers from within politics Ministerial advisers and government agencies

Please note that while I will refer throughout to a parliamentary system of government, its structures and positions will have logical parallels in other systems of government.

Ministers solicit advice from advisers and other ministerial staff members as well as any government agencies of energy, environment, industry and economy. Because these people interpret and filter information for their ministers it is absolutely essential they have access to correct information and know the viewpoint of the renewable industry and civil society across the issues involved.

These positions are important and necessary; nevertheless people do come into them with their own views of the world. Sometimes this means that any message passed upwards comes with prejudices attached — positive or negative.

Of course these advisers and agencies may also experience lobbying pressure from opponents of renewable energy legislation.

Government ministers agree and propose legislation, however, it will be a wider parliament that amends, discusses and ultimately votes on the legislation. This will include representatives from within the governing party and from other parties or independents. Clearly their views and opinions affect the formation ofthe legislation well before it is actually tabled in parliament. The balance of power and trade-off between issues can make the non-governing or minority parties very influential.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, we must repeat that decision-makers do not make decisions on scientific or political merit alone. While they are in principle reflecting the wishes of the public they are also ensuring that they stay in power.

This gives rise to a completely new set of influencers on the decision-maker. There is the issue of the decision-maker's own status within government and the standing of their government with the voting public. There may also be backbenchers (non-cabinet members of parliament) in marginal seats who are worried about losing their seats because of green voters. These politicians are ready to pressure decision-making ministers for initiatives that will help to prove the government's green credentials. There may be members from small parties who have bargaining power with the government over completely different legislation.

Furthermore, among these parliamentarians strong renewable energy supporters may be found. If we are really lucky, these individuals may even be members of the cabinet. There will also be cross-party committees considering and advising parliament on various issues. Often the individuals populating such committees are enthusiastic about the issues and therefore potentially supportive.

Political champions

Research reveals that the most educated and successful people in society have the greatest degree of environmental awareness — not quite the dreadlocks and bongos environmentalist stereotype often imagined. Therefore it is highly likely that among politicians there exist allies who can help, advise and convey messages upward. Better still, there may be champions among this pool: people prepared to act as political leaders in the campaign for legislative change. The higher up the champion in the system, the more power and weight they have to drive the ball toward the goal. One such champion was Svend Auken, the Danish energy and environment minister who maintained legislative support sufficient to transform Danish wind manufacturers into a major economic powerhouse (see Figure 5.4).

Seeking out champions is an important part of a campaign. Once they are found, a campaign should not fail to support and nurture these relationships as it all ultimately comes down to people. However, a champion can only help lead a campaign for change, not run the entire campaign. The role of the wider campaign is to build the external pressure for change and then create space for the champion to run with the ball. The heavier the champion is politically, the more they will be able to do alone; the lighter they are, the more work the campaign must do to clear the path for them and protect them from being brought down.

Source: Greenpeace International

Figure 5.4 Political champions: Danish Energy Minister Svend Auken and then UK Environment Minister Michael Meacher lend support to offshore wind energy aboard the vessel MV Greenpeace as it departs for the Turno Knob offshore wind farm

Source: Greenpeace International

Figure 5.4 Political champions: Danish Energy Minister Svend Auken and then UK Environment Minister Michael Meacher lend support to offshore wind energy aboard the vessel MV Greenpeace as it departs for the Turno Knob offshore wind farm

Again we are maximizing room for positive decisions and minimizing the chance for negative decisions.

Influencers outside politics

At this chapter's outset, we pointed out that the team of renewable energy proponents may start as only the (still small) renewable energy industry, the larger environment groups and some government agencies. This is hardly a heavyweight package with which to convince governments to adopt major energy sector reforms. These voices may also not be the source from which certain messages need to be heard; is an environmental group seen to be a credible commentator on what is best for the economy? So we need to discover the individuals or groups that decisions-makers and their direct influencers heed.

Where might we find these people? There will always be individuals or groups that have a trusted place in the hearts of decision-makers or perhaps have influence for other reasons. These people and organizations will help us influence decision-making if we can convince them of the merits and arguments in favour of renewable energy. With issues like climate change, there will be people and organi zations that may be concerned, but have not yet spoken out on an issue — doctors and health professionals, churches and international aid groups, scientists and academics, industry groups and unions, farmers and innovators, large companies or popular retail brands, or the finance sector and insurance companies. We can see, of course, that there is a good deal of overlap between the influencers we are identifying here and the stakeholders identified in the previous chapter.

The influence of such groups or individuals is not just upward. They can also have considerable influence in wider society and with the media. For example, if the head of a big oil company speaks out about the risks of climate change and the need to support renewable energy, he will be reported in the business pages rather than the environment pages, and will reach and perhaps sway a very different audience. The British Wind Energy Association's 'Embrace Wind' campaign has used high profile 'stars' to champion wind energy.

On the other side of the coin are individuals and organizations that can be extremely influential if they oppose renewable energy legislation. Large energy companies have very high-level and direct access to ministers and can convey messages that will not be heard elsewhere. It is therefore necessary to include in the target audiences those groups that may oppose renewable energy legislation.

The public

Given the lack of significant influence on the pro-renewable side of the equation at the campaign outset, raising public awareness on the issues and enrolling their vocal support for safe energy represents a critical opportunity to swing the process in our favour. Government decisions will not be made on merit alone. Not only will there be high-level influence through lobbying, there will also be local-level exposure to the voting public.

ultimately the power of elected representatives rests with the voting public. We may, of course, be looking to start the industry in new markets where countries may lack a conventional democracy. Yet politics are politics whatever the structure. The need to build up public support for renewable energy within the wider community and its stakeholders will always exist. Even if fantastic legislation were in place, there would still be a need to appeal to the public to accept the changes brought by renewable energy. This appeal also extends to organizations that the public looks to for guidance.

However, it is often said that there is no such thing as the general public. The critical publics to any renewable energy campaign will be stakeholders and the politically important parts of society. Stakeholders were discussed in detail in the previous chapter, so now let us examine the important parts of society.

Obviously the form taken by influential parts of society varies from country to country and also with the political party in power. Sustainable energy issues have the fortune of being generally non-partisan and having broad appeal. Nevertheless,political parties have antennae tuned to certain demographics. It may be the middle ground of people with young families, the youth vote or the rural vote. Many countries are now witnessing the rise of a green vote which leaches votes from both left- and right-wing political parties.

Table 5.2 Support for renewables in Australia

'In the year 2000 the Howard government set a target to increase the contribution of clean energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar over the next 10 years. Do you think this was a good or bad initiative?'

Very Bad In Good Very Don't Mean bad between good know

Total

7

1%

22

2%

17

2%

332

32%

636

62%

13

1%

4.55

Gender

Male

4

1%

12

2%

8

2%

161

32%

317

63%

4

1%

4.54

Female

3

1%

10

2%

9

2%

171

33%

319

61%

9

2%

4.55

Age group

18-29

1

1%

6

5%

3

2%

46

35%

73

56%

1

1%

4.43

30-39

2

1%

4

2%

3

1%

69

34%

125

61%

2

1%

4.53

40-49

1

0%

4

2%

3

1%

65

32%

127

63%

2

1%

4.57

50-59

0

0%

2

1%

3

1%

68

31%

139

64%

4

2%

4.62

60+

3

1%

6

2%

5

2%

84

31%

169

62%

4

1%

4.54

Household

<$20,000

4

2%

6

3%

5

2%

84

35%

132

56%

6

3%

4.45

income

$20-40,000

1

0%

8

4%

2

1%

68

31%

135

63%

2

1%

4.53

$40-60,000

0

0%

3

1%

1

0%

65

32%

132

66%

0

0%

4.62

$60-80,000

0

0%

2

2%

2

2%

39

33%

74

62%

2

2%

4.58

$80-100,000

0

0%

2

3%

0

0%

17

26%

45

69%

1

2%

4.64

$100,000+

0

0%

0

0%

1

1%

33

34%

63

65%

0

0%

4.64

Voting

Labor

2

1%

5

3%

5

3%

61

36%

97

57%

1

1%

4.45

intention

Liberal

1

0%

5

2%

3

1%

93

29%

220

68%

3

1%

4.63

National

0

0%

1

6%

0

0%

5

29%

11

65%

0

0%

4.53

The Greens

0

0%

1

1%

0

0%

16

22%

55

75%

1

1%

4.74

The Democrats

0

0%

0

0%

0

0%

5

28%

13

72%

0

0%

4.72

An independent

1

3%

1

3%

0

0%

10

32%

19

61%

0

0%

4.45

Other

0

0%

1

7%

0

0%

3

20%

10

67%

1

7%

4.57

Don't know

3

1%

6

2%

7

2%

118

35%

192

58%

7

2%

4.50

Children

No children

0

0%

4

3%

3

2%

47

36%

76

58%

0

0%

4.50

Intend to have children

1

1%

2

2%

0

0%

38

32%

77

64%

2

2%

4.59

Already have children

6

1%

16

2%

14

2%

245

32%

479

62%

10

1%

4.55

Children at school

2

1%

8

3%

4

1%

108

36%

176

58%

3

1%

4.50

Location

City

2

0%

9

2%

6

1%

154

29%

351

66%

6

1%

4.61

Country/regional

5

1%

13

3%

11

2%

178

36%

285

57%

7

1%

4.47

State

NSW (inc. ACT)

1

0%

13

5%

2

1%

91

36%

142

56%

6

2%

4.46

Vic

4

2%

3

1%

4

2%

62

30%

130

63%

3

1%

4.53

QLD

1

1%

4

3%

1

1%

48

32%

98

64%

0

0%

4.57

WA

0

0%

0

0%

3

3%

33

32%

67

64%

1

1%

4.62

SA (inc. NT)

0

0%

0

0%

5

2%

60

28%

145

69%

1

0%

4.67

Tas

1

1%

3

3%

2

2%

38

38%

54

54%

2

2%

4.44

Note: Cross-tabs on support for renewables across demographics can provide very useful insight into critical parts of public opinion. In fact support for renewable energy is surprisingly uniform. Source: AusWEA (2004); personal communication

^0 0072

Source: AusWEA (2004)

Figure 5.5 Uniformity of support for renewable policy over 33 demographic types

Situation analysis (What is the background noise above which we need to be heard?)

If our target audience is to hear and understand our key messages then we must make sure our messages resonate for that group. Some messages and issues will naturally rise to the top to dominate media and public space (such as elections and wars) while others must jostle for space in competition with everything else that is going on. The chance of our messages being received is enhanced if we choose opportune moments that are not dominated by other issues, or if we find ways to reinforce our message with the other issues in circulation. Simply put, we are trying to build a map of the media and issues landscape over which the communication plan must lay.

A friend of mine who is a very fine campaign strategist recently applied for a job with Amnesty International. She was being interviewed by telephone in the early hours of her morning at the time of the US-led invasion of Iraq when asked, 'Given the war in Iraq, how do you think Amnesty could best manage its campaign about prisoners of conscience?' Her reply was, 'Tell the staff to take their annual leave.' She got the job.

We need to look at the situation as it affects our target audiences. We can split this situation analysis into three parts. First there is what is going on more generally (for example, the focus in the national media) which we will call the external situation. Second is the current focus of discussion in our sector, the energy or environment sector, which we will call the internal situation. And third are the situations of each of our target audiences, the target situations.

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