Project Description

Case Study: Nuclear Energy Institute

The Problem

Public opinion towards nuclear power declined precipitously following the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania. This steady erosion of public support resulted in a halt of the expansion of nuclear power in the U.S. and created political challenges that impacted the cost of electricity from existing nuclear power stations.

For more than 30 years, during the many challenges the industry has faced, S&H has been on the frontline of the nuclear energy debate. We are the advertising agency of record for the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the trade association and policy organization of the nuclear energy and technologies industry. We have also worked extensively with Westinghouse Electric Company, the company with the greatest number of global contracts to build advanced reactors.

The Solution: Advertising

In 1995, NEI hired S&H as its advertising agency of record. During the first two years, advertising was directed at policy objectives such as passing nuclear waste legislation in the U.S. Congress.

In 1997, we launched a second advertising campaign that promoted the benefits of nuclear technology and nuclear power. The principal goal was to encourage policymakers and opinion leaders to take a fresh look at nuclear power. The primary message was the “clean air” benefit of nuclear energy, a message that is increasingly significant as we struggle to control CO2 emissions while producing more electricity with American technology and fuel. S&H continues to utilize television, radio and print advertising to showcase the many benefits of generating carbon-free electricity with nuclear power generation.

Survey research has demonstrated the positive impact of this campaign, even in the aftermath of the Fukushima accident in Japan, and the industry has approved a budget for a twenty-first year of advertising.

The Solution: Media Relations and Education

Utilizing industry engineers and scientists, we developed a highly successful national media and grassroots outreach effort. Originally named the Campus America Program, it was launched as a way to educate college students about energy issues and generate positive news coverage about nuclear power.

The program was so successful in increasing positive media coverage and building the credibility of the industry that the nuclear industry retained S&H to manage the program for 18 years. In 2008, the Nuclear Energy Institute retained S&H to reinstate a similar speakers bureau, called the Clean Energy America program. We were responsible for every aspect of the program, from selecting and training speakers, to scheduling their itineraries, and accompanying them during their travels. Each trip produced valuable news coverage and helped the public become better informed about nuclear power.

The Results

Public acceptance of nuclear power has climbed back to a point where a large majority of the public supports building new nuclear power plants. Three utilities have announced plans to build the next generation of nuclear energy facilities and twelve other projects are under review by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

NEI - Smith & Harroff Case Study

“Smith & Harroff has been a critical part of our success in building a positive, pro-nuclear environment inside the Beltway and throughout the United States. They helped create both an effective strategy and compelling ad executions. In addition, their management of our speakers bureau has been top notch.”

— Scott Peterson
Senior Vice President-Communications
Nuclear Energy Institute