Case Study: Nuclear Energy Institute
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.
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.
More recently, 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 utilized television, radio, print and digital advertising to showcase the many benefits of generating carbon-free electricity with nuclear power.
Survey research has demonstrated the positive impact of this campaign, even in the aftermath of the Fukushima accident in Japan, public opinion and public policy are favorable towards nuclear energy.
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 speaker’s 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.
Public acceptance of nuclear power has climbed back to a point where a large majority of the public supports building new nuclear power plants. And even in the face of cheap natural gas prices, several utilities in the US and dozens of other companies in other countries, have announced plans to build the next generation of nuclear energy facilities.