SAN JOSE, CA: Bloom Energy has brought on Allison+Partners to power its story about reducing carbon footprints and weaning corporations off the grid.
Allison+Partners is tasked with a broad remit of integrated marketing and communications that includes corporate, product, digital, and potentially marketing and branding, said David McCulloch, Bloom Energy’s VP of communications.
The MDC Partners-owned agency won the business following a competitive review starting in October that initially included 10 total agencies. After the first round of pitching, Bloom Energy reduced the shortlist to five finalists.
The contract was signed in the first week of January 2019, making Allison+Partners the only PR agency on the company’s roster. Budget information was not disclosed.
The hiring of Allison+Partners follows Bloom Energy’s IPO on the New York Stock Exchange last year, raising $270 million with the support of Blueshirt Group. Prior to its IPO, Bloom raised $1.06 billion across 15 rounds, with a valuation of $3 billion. Its backers included Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
Since its IPO, Bloom Energy’s stock has plunged due to investors’ worries over its guidance for Q4 in 2018 and its operating losses and expenses, according to The Motley Fool.
Bloom Energy worked with The OutCast Agency during its commercial debut when it launched its Bloom Energy Server product ten years ago, McCulloch said. Bloom Energy Server produces electricity locally by converting natural gas without combustion, providing a clean energy alternative that corporations can use to meet their carbon emission goals. A quarter of Fortune 100 companies use Bloom Energy’s product, including Apple, AT&T, Intel, and Morgan Stanley, McCulloch said.
Bloom Energy’s, clients don’t have to rely as much on a traditional grid, which is vulnerable to an increasing number of extreme weather events caused by climate change. There were 3,500 outages in the U.S. 2017, while the duration of the outages more than doubled from 2016 to 2018, McCulloch said.
While tackling climate change and business outages, there are other areas the Bloom Energy campaign could branch into, McCulloch said. For example, the grid is vulnerable to hacking, which is a national security issue.
"We need to elevate the issue of energy resiliency to every C-suite in every company," he added. "Part of the challenge is to put an end to complacency; complacency is our target as regrettably, outages will affect more and more businesses."
Allison+Partners will help support the company’s "energy resiliency" message.
"It’s very rare in the media business that you can engage journalists and they intuitively understand the importance of a story and the issue you’re talking about," said Todd Aydelotte, an MD in Allison+Partners’ New York City office. "Anyone in our country just looks out the window and understands catastrophic weather events are here, they’re increasing with frequency, and they’re highly disruptive to the business environment. Then you start looking at the idea it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better."
Aydelotte said Allison+Partners’ background in tech, clean energy, and environmental issues uniquely positioned them to take on this account. The agency’s tech client roster includes Samsung, ADT, BSA, Campaign Monitor, Google, and PIR.
For about a year, Bloom Energy has been steadily building up its comms team, first by hiring McCulloch, who joined from GE Power last March. Most recently, it brought on Natalia Blank from CA Technologies in November last year as head of corporate PR, McCulloch said.
McCulloch said Bloom Energy has a significant and growing business in South Korea, where the government is trying to combat its poor air quality by deploying clean tech. The company has no PR support in the country, but "that could be in [its] future," McCulloch said. Nor does Bloom Energy have PR support in Japan and India, its other two big markets, but they are less mature businesses.