By Katja Schroeder, Expedition PR
2014 is around the corner. It’s time to look at some of this year’s great PR moments. One of them was the arrival of the largest solar boat, the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar, in New York City this June. The Expedition PR team was honored to work with the PlanetSolar team, the Consulate General of Switzerland in New York and the University of Geneva to use the PlanetSolar stop in the Big Apple as a conversation platform about the advancements and possibilities of solar energy. Switzerland is at the forefront of scientific research on technology innovation and sustainability. Onboard PlanetSolar was the DeepWater expedition, a team of scientists from the University of Geneva. The team collected data along the Gulf Stream to analyze changes in ocean currents and climate change.
Expedition PR executed a strategic PR program that combined media relations, social media marketing and VIP events.
The team reached out to reporters covering sustainability, innovation and transportation to start the conversation about the Swiss boat’s mission for solar energy. Updates about the boat’s itinerary were shared via social media prior to its highly anticipated arrival in the Big Apple.
The MS Tûranor PlanetSolar was greeted with fanfare and excitement by New Yorkers at the marina. Al Jazeera and NBC News covered the boat’s arrival. AFP pictures of PlanetSolar approaching New York with the Swiss flag on top of the boat were published in slideshows by newspapers around the world.
Shortly after the boat docked, the Consulate General of Switzerland in New York hosted a Welcome Reception for the PlanetSolar and DeepWater expedition team, attended by the diplomatic circle, academic institutions, analysts and representatives of the New York clean tech community.
The next day, New York City’s Sustainability Officer welcomed the crew together with the Swiss Consulate at the press conference. To get more in-depth coverage and features about the boat’s mission, the team scheduled one-on-one-meetings with U.S. and foreign media. TV, including Bloomberg TV, TechCrunch TV and WNBC The Takeaway. Select reporters were given the unique opportunity to take a Liberty Island Harbor cruise on the PlanetSolar before the boat departed to Boston. Through a helicopter photo and video shoot, participants also obtained aerial pictures for their reporting following the tour.
The boat’s sheer presence at the marina created interest among passersby. As the boat was not available for tour, the Consulate General of Switzerland had prepared a brochure to educate the general public about Swiss solar projects.
More than 44 reporters had met the PlanetSolar team. News coverage appeared in more than 88 publications worldwide, including The New York Times, National Geographic, Bloomberg TV, Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, WNYC, CleanTechnica, Mother Jones, Weather Channel, The Verge, and Inhabitat. 53% of the coverage appeared in foreign media, i.e. NZZ, RTS, Le Temps, Die Welt (Germany), Le Figaro (France) and La Presse (Canada). A media content analysis for the key message penetration showed that 73% of the coverage mentioned Switzerland; 88% of coverage had images of PlanetSolar, 60% of which visibly showed the Swiss flag; 23% had mention of the Swiss Consulate; 69% mentioned the University of Geneva.
In November Planet Solar was awarded the 2013 European Solar Prize in the media category for the media exposure generated for its first trip around the world solely powered by solar energy (2010-2012). Congratulations to the PlanetSolar team for this well-deserved award and for educating the world about the advantages of solar energy.
For more information on the PR program, please read our case study.