PR & External Communications for Energy: An interview with Speaker Peter Hunt, Hill + Knowlton Strategies Canada

CI Producer Gemma Graham chats with Peter Hunt, SVP & National Energy Practice Leader, Hill + Knowlton Strategies Canada, about his upcoming session at the PR & External Communications for Energy conference on April 15 & 16, 2014.   [Gemma Graham] Can you give the delegates some insight into your current role and responsibilities? [Peter Hunt] I’m a Senior VP at Hill + Knowlton as well as the National Energy Practice Leader. I’m involved in some of our major initiatives and I look at our overall strategy of the industries and keep abreast of current developments. [GG] To summarize, what exactly is micro-targeting? [PH] It’s taking and further developing the technologies and strategies that were first developed by the Obama Campaign in 2008, and further refined in the 2012 election, that enabled him to develop one of the biggest armies of volunteers and small donors that had ever been seen in presidential politics. It’s the ability to get messages and material to very tightly defined audiences, which might be based on traditional measures like gender, geographical location or even value sets. These messages will penetrate the communications clutter and be effective because it’s specifically tailored to the audience. [GG] How is it being applied in the energy sector? What are the results so far? [PH] We are at the very early stages of its use in the energy sector. One of the stories that will be shared at the conference is an example of how much more effective it is proving to be than traditional communication techniques in helping educate and change opinion in really contentious subject areas. We are just at the start of applying what I think is going to be the next generation of effective communication in a world where almost everyone is connected but we’re also absolutely saturated with messages. It’s all about how you penetrate the clutter in a meaningful way that will actually produce change. While it would be an exaggeration to say that in 10 years all communication will be done this way, but I do think it will be increasingly common. However, we’re just at the start of what I think is going to be a revolution in effective communication. Micro-targeting is going to be absolutely essential to enabling the industry to communicate and function effectively in this very challenging communications environment. [GG] What will micro-targeting mean for the energy industry? How will it shape public relations and stakeholder outreach? [PH] Attendees of PR and External Communications for Energy will walk away with a fundamentally different understanding of what is possible. They will see that the old saying “I know that half my advertising budget is wasted, the trouble is I don’t know which half” will no longer be true.  Micro-targeting will give them a way to not only be much more effective in their communication, but also to produce measurable impact for their line managers, which has always been a big challenge for PR. [GG] Micro-targeting will enable practitioners to quantify their impact? [PH] Yes. Quantify the difference they’re making and be able to show that for a given spend they’re producing this much change. So they will be able to show very effectively a cost and benefit analysis. [GG] A challenge for PR practitioners has been to show the ROI of their efforts, so this could essentially change that? [PH] Yes. One of the beauties of micro-targeting is that it’s scalable. You can try lots of different things and see which ones work and then confidently predict the impact you’re going have if you scale the successful barrier. [GG] How long before micro-targeting will be commonly used in the energy industry?  [PH] I think we will see it becoming increasingly common over the next few years. This is just the start of the next generation so this is a chance to understand what’s happening and how it works. [GG] We are so excited to have you presenting our session at our PR for Energy Conference, April 15-16. Without revealing too much, can you tell us what delegates can expect to take away from your session? [PH] An understanding of how this works; why this works; what’s coming down the pipe; and an understanding of how to use it to prove effectiveness to line managers. PR & External Communications for Energy When: Tuesday, April 15 to Wednesday, April 16, 2014 Where: Marriott Downtown, Calgary, Alberta To learn more visit: