As 2020 drew to a close, we analyzed the top-engaged journalists in cleantech and climate. By examining how different journalists “performed” in terms of reader engagement with stories in the second half of 2020, we learn new ways to diversify, prioritize and bullet-proof our media lists in 2021. To marry our intuition with data, we commissioned a report from NewsWhip to rank the top articles and authors on these subjects in North America in terms of engagement (e.g., how often did readers share articles on social channels like Twitter).
Beyond journalist insight, this type of analysis helps us understand how different storylines are evolving. For example, electric vehicle coverage is quite “mature” at this point, reaching the broadest possible audience in the climate and cleantech universe. Meanwhile, the “microgrid” topic is still quite niche and rarely covered as a standalone topic by most reporters.
The data is just one input, however; sometimes the top-performing stories are one-offs by a reporter who won’t write about the subject again. As with all analytics, it requires human experience to sort through the takeaways. Here are a few:
- In this media universe, stories related to climate, electric vehicles, and solar energy drive the most reader engagement as compared with topics like storage and grid electrification
- Topics like climate, EVs and to some extent solar, tended to be covered by the household publications like the New York Times
- As the topics get more niche, so do the authors. In the world of microgrids, for example, trade media coverage is still some of the most highly-engaged coverage
Let’s look at data from two topics on opposite ends of the engagement spectrum: climate and microgrids.
Political media dominates here, with the highest engagement coming from stories by The Washington Post and The New York Times. Grist and NPR also appear in the top 10. (I was surprised Grist ranked so high).
The Post’s Juliet Eilperin had the most engagements on her climate content, having plenty of subject matter with her focus on the Trump administration’s approach to climate. Coral Davenport, who covers energy and environmental policy for The Times, was the next most engaged.
Naturally, microgrids are much earlier in their news maturity and not dominating mainstream headlines (yet!). The most engaged articles about microgrids focus on them as technology for the future. Themes include investing in microgrids for the long-term and ways that microgrids can transform power delivery some day. The most engaged stories in any category tend to have strong human characters, and this category is now different. The top article focused on a group of girls in Yemen who used a microgrid to provide power amid war and the pandemic.
Very few of the top authors wrote articles that focused specifically on microgrids, with all of the top ten writing fewer than five articles. We believe this will change as these distributed energy resources become more mainstream and their value is perceived by wider stakeholders across vertical industries, government and society.
“New Years Eve 2011 London” by Sean MacEntee is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/