MaxWest Environmental Systems is a renewable energy company with a commercial process to convert wastewater treatment residuals (“biosolids”) into green energy. With a commercial-scale facility in Sanford, Florida, the company provides municipalities and industrial sites with a unique gasification system that is safe, cost-effective and more environmentally friendly than traditional methods of waste disposal.
How did Sterling Communications secure coverage for MaxWest Environmental Systems’ funding announcement with a tight deadline and limited resources?
MaxWest is in a type of business that requires a good deal of capital. Although the new funding round represented a substantial investment of $32.5 million from Invesco Plc, MaxWest did not wish to draw attention to its core business until more project installations were underway to provide third-party validation of its approach. At the behest of early investor Leaf Clean Energy Company, MaxWest asked Sterling to secure visibility for the financial story, but only with investment-focused media.
With a new website near completion, Sterling recommended postponing the funding announcement, so that the consequent influx of traffic would direct to the new site with its revised branding and messaging. Sterling provided key SEO recommendations and reviewed draft pages.
“Sterling Communications went above and beyond our expectations. They not only delivered on their outreach plan, but also offered invaluable strategic advice and positioning. We found a winning partner in Sterling that knows the green tech space and really goes the extra mile. There is no question that Sterling will be the first communications agency to come to mind when I’m asked for a recommendation.” – Kelly Sarber, Vice President, MaxWest Environmental Systems
Sterling drafted a press release addressing the critical points of interest to investment media, to reduce follow-on questions that would siphon valuable time from MaxWest personnel.
In order to abide by MaxWest’s wish to focus on its funding news and not its service story, Sterling developed a two-part outreach plan. The initial step was for Sterling to create a target list of a select number of business and financial press to pitch for briefings in advance of the announcement date. A second, broader list of reporters covering renewable energy was assembled to use for press release distribution on the day of the announcement. In accordance with the MaxWest guidelines, Sterling did not reach out to the industry-specific media focused on water and wastewater, as those outlets were likely to want to discuss the details of the MaxWest gasification system rather than limiting coverage to the funding news.
Due to budget and spokesperson time constraints, Sterling also recommended dispensing with a wire service for the announcement. While use of a wire service would definitely have increased re-posting of the press release to online sites, it would also have generated information requests that MaxWest personnel did not have the time or inclination to address. Instead, Sterling emailed the release to its target media list, and MaxWest and Leaf distributed it to their own lists of customers, partners and prospects.
As a result of this outreach plan, Sterling arranged advance joint briefings for MaxWest and Leaf with Dow Jones VentureWire and Bloomberg News, both of which resulted in feature stories. Sterling generated additional coverage through call-downs of the media list, including Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch, TheStreet, Orlando Business Journal, Responsible Investor, Cleantech Insights and Treehugger. Sterling promoted the coverage via social media channels such as Twitter and the Delicious bookmarking site. In consequence of the coverage, MaxWest saw its website traffic jump over 500 percent the day of the announcement.