The economic boom years in the Gulf region led to some of the world's fastest growth in population and GDP. At the same time, energy consumption and carbon emissions also increased very quickly. Its access to a vast amount of natural energy resources allowed countries of the region for a quick industrial expansion as well as growth in production of electricity and desalinated water.
On the other hand, the region is struggling to build power generation capacity fast enough to meet growth in demand. The consumption of energy for air conditioning, electricity and water play an enormously important role particularly in the United Arab Emirates, as around two thirds of CO2 emissions in the region are spent on energy. Hence, raising awareness for a more carbon neutral lifestyle is a matter of special interest to the country.
These are key issues for Techem, an international energy service provider for the housing and property industry in the fields of energy services, offering systems for saving energy and analysing energy consumption. As a market leader in Germany and internationally in installed radio metering devices, the company has a turnover of 652 million Euros global turnover and a well-established presence in over twenty countries for more than 55 years.
In the UAE, one of the countries in focus of bridge:media's communications campaign for Techem, the residential sector accounts for the highest amount of energy consumption: 70% of electricity are used for air condition in private households. These homes have a high potential of being made more energy efficient through awareness campaigns and the usage of more precise metering devices, for example.
Therefore, energy consumption needs to be reduced in particular with private and business end consumers. In this realm, the biggest challenge of the communications campaign was the fact that there are generally rather few incentives for this target group to reduce energy consumption. With energy consumption being measured on an area base, it is difficult for consumers to control their costs. The measurement system can therefore be blamed for an excessive energy waste. On the contrary, consumption based cooling cost allocation methods could lead to 25% of energy savings.
Hence, one of the main challenges of the communications campaign for Techem was to raise the level of awareness focusing on end-consumers, emphasising the incentives for the installation of smart metering devices, such as the opportunity to cut down on the amount of money consumers spend on energy.
A second key element for saving energy that needed to be communicated through this campaign was the introduction of energy-efficient standards and regulations for buildings- a message, which was addressed at another target group. These standards and regulations were aimed mainly at developers that would through these measures be required to increase the implementation and production of more efficient systems, appliances and equipment.
Based on the issues outlined above an intense communications and media consulting campaign was conducted over a continuous period of several years, addressing both B2B and B2C customers. As a part of the consulting strategy, the strengths and weaknesses of previously existing guidelines and rules were discussed with Techem in order to determine the exact roles these measures play for both consumers and the energy market of the Gulf region in general. These discussions led to the conclusion that even though existing measures can positively influence the standards of construction of new buildings, they still fail to influence consumer awareness about energy savings.
Following from these conclusions, key messages for the communications campaign were developed in accordance with Techem's goals. These messages were subsequently communicated through different types of journalistic articles, including features, opinion pieces and press releases in both English and Arabic. This intensive campaign included the regular placement of articles that were published within the pan-Arab media, as well as with those targeting specific countries of the region.
Regular events were also supported in the framework of this extensive communications campaign, taking into account the vital role of media relations aiming to achieve prominent, high-quality and regular media coverage about Techem and the energy-saving message the company seeks to convey to a wider audience. Thus, the campaign included regular communications support for Techem events, with journalists being invited to industry-specific events.
Moreover, in line with this strategy, numerous TV and Radio interviews with industry experts of Techem were organised. The expertise of Techem's representative was highlighted, promoting him as a reference person who is aware of the challenges that face the country at the moment and who can at the same time offer practical suggestions to reduce energy consumption and related costs.
The interviews were placed with TV and radio outlets that are known to address both decision-makers of the UAE and end consumers, targeted at both groups specifically for different appearances of Techem's industry experts.
Starting from a low level of awareness about energy consumption, the intense communications campaign using a variety of media channels allowed consumers to significantly raise their level of information about these issues.Overall, the campaign managed to reach not only private end consumers, but also businesses and decision-makers of the country, raising awareness of incentives that support using valuable energy resources more efficiently.
Articles and interviews placed in the framework of this campaign generated a strong response, showing that consumers are becoming more aware and more interested in energy issues in the UAE and in the Gulf region. Media across the region took the issues on for other publications following on from the campaign, which in turn led to an increasing number of articles being published on the subject every day. The media outlets that published articles about Techem due to this campaign are among the most influential in the UAE, including leading dailies of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.
The response clearly differed between different emirates in the UAE, with media outlets taking up on issues that matter specifically for the respective emirate. In Sharjah, for example, where residents are most concerned with energy shortages leading to blackouts during the summer, the matter of energy savings was mostly covered from that specific angle.
Other media outlets, in particular TV and Radio stations, also requested a number of interviews with Techem's industry experts whose profiles were raised significantly, often using ideas for broadcasts that were inspired by the communications campaign.
In addition, industry-specific events proved to be a major success for Techem through the intense PR campaign run in advance of the event. On the internet, the image of Techem was improved significantly through the campaign, which positively influenced the online communication about its expertise in the long-term: whereas little information about energy saving measures as advocated by Techem was available before the campaign, now numerous articles about these issues can be accessed online in Arabic.
Overall, it can be concluded that bridge:media's diversified long-term communication means allow Techem not only to generally raise awareness about energy consumption and energy savings, but also to significantly extend the reach of the company's image as a reliable, professional energy service provider in the Arabian Gulf region.