DETROIT: PR will play a major role in helping General Motors launch a new multi-year environmental sustainability program for Chevrolet.
For the program, the automaker will invest $40 million in locally-driven clean energy projects.
The investment is expected to offset the carbon dioxide emissions of the 1.9 million vehicles Chevrolet expects to sell in the US next year, the company said.
As part of the integrated marketing campaign, Chevrolet has created a website, a ChevyCarbon Twitter handle, and Facebook tab called Reducing CO2, to promote the clean energy projects. GM's BeyondNow blog will also post ongoing updates.
“The purpose of the digital channels is to educate and engage the public in a dialogue about the environment, so that they're a part of the conversation,” said Sharon Basel, GM's communications manager for environment and energy. “We also want to solicit ideas from communities and consumers within those communities in terms of investment projects we should consider.”
Basel said Chevrolet is working with a number of GM's roster PR firms, led by Edelman and Mullen. “We knew we needed help, because this is dramatic and new for us. Even through as a company we've done many things in a sustainable way before we've never talked boldly about them,” she said. “So we recognized the need to engage PR partners in shaping our messages, making this announcement and helping us move forward.”
The investment was announced the same day GM returned to public trading, where its IPO became the second-largest since Visa in March 2008.
“We've started the process of introducing Chevrolet…and GM to the American public, so they understand we are not the company we were before,” said Joel Ewanick, VP, US marketing for GM at a media briefing for the clean energy projects. “Consumers tell us they are looking for their brands and companies they associate with to take a greater social responsibility in all areas, but primary environmental areas where they feel so helpless.”
Chevrolet will invest in grassroots, locally-driven projects, such as providing energy sensors and social panels in schools and community centers, supporting wind farms and solar projects and contributing to forestry projects throughout the US. GM will make the investments through Bonneville Environmental Foundation and other third-party organizations.
Basel said as the clean energy projects are introduced over the next three to five years, “it will present so much richness in terms of PR opportunities. This will really become a grassroots campaign.”