June 23rd, 2010

What is Content Curation and How Can it Help Shape Green Business


Content curation refers to the work of aggregating and editing digital content (news, blogs, social media, events, etc) as part of an online strategy to nurture leads and build an online community. Just as a museum curator is in charge of collecting, displaying, editing and cataloging relevant gallery objects for a physical display, so to does a website content curator with digital resources. Providing automation enables web content publishers and curators to focus on providing relevant, contextual and topical information for its users, while stretching its marketing budget which is especially relevant for new, green companies entering the marketplace.

It is becoming increasingly important to consider content curation to help synchronize a community (Christy Barksdale, PR 20/20), bring order to information overload (Steve Rosenbaum, Fast Company &, and is the key to building visibility, authority and value (Robin Good, MasterNewMedia). The tipping point may have been reached when, WordPress, the world’s biggest blogging platform added a curation feature recently. According to Pawan Deshpande, the CEO of HiveFire, content curation is a win-win because it allows companies to more effectively use marketing dollars while providing a better service to its end-users.

Weather it’s done solely by a human or with the help of automation software, many green businesses are paying attention. A good example content curation in action can be found at Greentech Media, Green Data Center News and Go Green Web Directory. By providing current and contextual information companies can provide considerable value to its users, building their sales pipeline and positing your company as the though leader – a win/win for everyone.

Challenges for adoption include rules and ethical questions around content aggregation, as well as budgetary and ROI considerations. There are several players in the content curation space, namely HiveFire (Boston, MA), (NY, NY) and OneSpot (Austin, TX).

Does your company utilize content curation? Why or why not?

June 14th, 2010

Save the World or Beat China? How to Sell Cleantech Investment to America


Many of the issues we face with renewable energy and clean tech in general are technological problems, but I would argue many more of them have to do with framing the issues and convincing people to change. Technology won’t do it by itself, the adoption and change of behavior will be the hard part.

We can learn a lot of lessons about framing from our reaction to the crisis in Haiti, and the change in terminology from global warming to climate change, both worthless terms. These may seem like tiny, trivial issues but they’re not. Something I always hear from engineer types is ‘sales is easy’. Bull, if you put them out in the wild they wouldn’t be able to give solar away. I believe that convincing people to do something is very, very hard.

We can see this with how environmental, political, and business groups have tried to sell clean energy to the American public. It’s like a huge experimental with each group trying to figure out what will work. To the environmentalists its saving the world, to republicans it can be energy independence, to business owners it’s innovation and growth, to VCs is the trillion dollar opportunity that dwarfs the internet boom.

Our real challenge seems to be figuring out how to frame the issue that unites everyone.

If we’re certain about one things its this, the US is rapidly falling behind other regions in the development of clean tech, that includes, water, waste, energy, you name it.  A few weeks ago Stephen Lacey from Renewable Energy World published a podcast called “The Next Great Global Industry” (ps- if you don’t already listen to the Inside Renewable Energy podcast by Stephen Lacey, you should, it’s awesome) where the guests near the end of the podcast described the phenomenon.

Here’s my question to you: what’s the best way to sell this to the American public?

In my perspective, we could use many frames, but the question is which one or ones will be most effective. If we just split the world in two, the ‘save the word’ part would convince the hippies and environmentalists, while the ‘beat china’ would cater to the replication crowd. Shhhhh, here’s the secret, whatever you choose leads to the same answers, MORE CLEAN TECH INVESTMENT!

I’m curious, what do you think is the best way to sell this?


June 10th, 2010

What do These Labels Even Mean?!?!?! Thoughts on Greenwashing


So, I was surfing the web yesterday and I came across the most fantastic invention to date: bacon stuffed hot dogs. Oh. My. God. Yumm!

I know, I know. As a total, annoying, scold your friends for being wasteful, Greenie, my love of meat is a bit of a contradiction. We all have our vices. I have several Michael Pollan books sitting on top of my “too read” pile and the greenness of a meat vs. vegetarian diet debate will have to wait until another day. On the plus side, the 4505 hot dogs are made with all natural ingredients, uncured, and hormone & antibiotic free. So, that is sustainable and healthy right?

This got me thinking. How “natural” and healthy can you make a hotdog stuffed with bacon? What does “all natural” even mean? Is this just the completed product? Does it include all the ingredients? Is this a representation of the entire life cycle of the product from birth of the animal until it ends up in my mouth? I obviously need more hobbies.

This is a big issue, however, and there is a lot of confusion among consumers in the market place. The big labels that exist are “certified organic,” “organic”, “100% organic”, “Made with organic ingredients”, “contains organic ingredients”, “all natural”, “natural”, “free range”, “sustainably harvested”, “no drugs or growth hormones”, etc. Phew…….no wonder there is confusion. So what do all these labels mean?

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May 21st, 2010

Sustainability and Social Media – A Match Made in Marketing Heaven


With the constant fluctuation of energy and natural resource prices, more and more companies are evaluating and embracing sustainability not only to cut and stabilize energy costs, but also to drive innovation and ensure competitive advantage. “Becoming environment-friendly can lower your costs and increase your revenues. That’s why sustainability should be a touchstone for all innovation” states a 2009 Harvard Business Review article. Walmart’s new Supplier Sustainability Assessment is the strongest indicator yet that sustainability is quickly becoming a valuable business tool. A well executed sustainability program can reduce employee turn-over and enable for a methodical and process driven approach to evaluating resource use, a prevailing theme at this year’s CRO Summit.

The social media tie-in? A recent Burson-Marsteller study found that “79 percent of the largest 100 companies in the Fortune Global 500 index are using at least one of the most popular social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or corporate blogs”. Clearly, if Fortune 500 companies see value in engaging in sustainability efforts and are communicating about them via social media channels, it is a sure sign that a critical mass has been reached. Just like that lonely tree in the forest, if you’ve got a breakthrough idea and no one knows about it, it may as well be useless. Green and clean-tech companies should be especially in-tune to digital media as it not only allows them to look for prospects, but also funding, partnerships, and visibility. Social media (in conjunction with an integrated web strategy) can provide significant leverage to that effort. Engaging stakeholders about sustainability efforts in a meaningful way helps to build credibility and the sales pipeline. According to McKinsey & Company “Digital channels can unify that experience and prevent the leakage of opportunity. Across a range of B2C and B2B clients, we’ve seen companies accelerate revenue growth by tightening the coordination of the end-to-end experience.” With the potential of a 10-20% revenue increase, social media can make a powerful impact. This free (aside from staff time) low-hanging fruit can also do wonders for overall SEO (Search Engine Optimization) efforts as well.

In Boston (referred to by some as the Silicon Valley of the East) companies like enerNOC, Harvest Power and GreenTech Media these companies speak sustainability and communicate their learnings through social media. As innovators, these companies naturally appeal to progressive, early adopters who are tech-savvy entrepreneurs. Harvest Power provides a good example of a well executed social media campaign because they take the time to share and engage with their online-constituents via Twitter @HarvestPower and their blog. Harvest understands that like any other communication vehicle, Twitter is just another platform where the conversation happens to be just 140 characters in length. Companies who fail to keep up with social media are allowing technology to pass them becoming obsolete and irrelevant. This is a huge mistake as they are passing up an effective, measurable tool that helps with lead acquisition, nurturing, visibility and branding.

While advising clients on how they can start building a social network I always recommend starting with goal setting and developing a solid communications strategy that incorporates various on-line and off-line channels. Starting small and testing the waters is often the best approach. With so many great (and free) ancillary tools available to connect, grade, and analyze, users can quickly fine-tune and optimize online campaigns. At the end of the day communicating about sustainability needs to be succinct and engaging, according to the CSR Reporting blog. Those afraid to harness these new communication tools do so at the risk of alienating their companies from the now mainstream web 2.0 digital world we live in.

Does your company use social media to communicate sustainability initiatives? What were the results and what did you learn?

March 10th, 2010

Truly Green Beers for St. Patrick’s Day


For those of you who actually needed a reason to drink beer, it has arrived.

Given the rise in consumer awareness when it comes to organic foods and the environment generally, there has been a surge in innovation from food and beverage producers to meet that demand. Beer crafters have actually been somewhat ahead of the curve. Microbreweries have been particularly active espousing both the “buy organic” and “buy local” movements.

By now, most people know about Peak Organic, a great organic brewery born here in Massachusetts in 1998 (now in Portland Maine). The founder, Jon Codoux had a passion for beer brewing and a sustainability ethic, realizing that if you combine both, you can make some kick ass beer and support your local economy. There are a range of organic and fair trade beers to suit just about everyone’s taste, featured on a fun website that shows just how local and funky this brewery gets. The Espresso Amber Ale for instance, is made with organic fair trade coffee beans from an indie coffee shop located down the street from Peak. The Maple Oat Ale is made through a collaboration of organic farmers located in Maine and Vermont. The Pomegranate Wheat Ale with a touch of organic coriander….well I am just bringing that one up because it sounds really good.

Wolaver’s Certified Organic Ales since 1997 is located in Vermont. Wolaver’s was one of the first USDA certified organic breweries and they don’t stop at just organic ingredients. They bring a four prong philosophy to their entire brewing and distribution process. 1. They have four different organic certifications for their brews; 2. They employ energy reduction techniques to their brewing process including, a biodiesel boiler, heat recovery, an energy efficient lighting system, and using local ingredients to minimize green house gases in transportation; 3. Depleted ingredients like hops, grains, and petals are sold to local farmers as cattle feed, they have an in-house waste water treatment system, and they use all recycled and bleach free materials for their packaging; 4. Finally they try to source everything the brewery needs locally to support their community. With Ales, Stouts, and a nice collection of Seasonals, Wolaver’s beer is definitely something you can feel good about drinking.

Kona Brewing Company in Hawaii has also been sustainably focused since its founding in 1994. Besides, organic beer, selling depleted ingredients to local farmers (and pizza/bread dough makers, hmm), recycling programs, and heat reclamation use, they are going solar. Kona received quite a bit of press recently when they announced their plans to install a 229kW solar energy generating system at their brewery and pub location. The PV system is estimated to produce an average of 900 KWh of electricity each day, allowing Kona to offset nearly 60 percent of its current electricity usage and save around $100,000 per year. When guests visit the brewery they will get to view a real-time monitor showing how much energy is being generated while they sip on their beer. So everyone, next time you are in Hawaii…..
Of course, Kona is not the first, nor the only brewery to go down the solar path. Other locally and sustainably focused crafters are moving in the same direction, including: Anderson Valley Brewing Company and Sierra Nevada in California, Lucky Labrador Brewing Company in Portland; and New Belgium Brewing in Colorado.

So there you have it! Reasons or more reasons to drink beer and support small producing craft breweries as well as your local economy.

As always kids, DRINK RESPONSIBLY!

Side note: If you are not familiar with Microbreweries in your area, I suggest you start looking into them or you will be missing out on some great brews. Matt Webster from Drink A Better Brew, here in Massachusetts, has an informative blog packed with the latest beer news you should know.

Peak Organic Beer:
Wolaver’s Organic Ales:
Kona Brewing Company:
Dogfish Head in Delaware (not organic as far as I know, but they are my favorite and therefore must be included):

This post was authored by Jessica R. Manganello, Esq. of New Leaf Legal, LLC. Check out more at and @Mangojess.