Guest Blog: Mervyn Bowden – What value do energy news channels add?

Year on year progress As we approach Energy Live 2016, it’s timely to give a view on the value the energy media in the UK have added on both the […]

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By ELN reporter

Year on year progress

As we approach Energy Live 2016, it’s timely to give a view on the value the energy media in the UK have added on both the supply and demand side of the sector over recent years. I’ve been fortunate in having both worked with and observed the growth and maintenance of interest created by a number of the key players in this.

I think there have been many examples of where online media, especially Energy Live News, as a newcomer to the industry only a few years ago, have supplemented many very good and hard copy publications in the magazine space both from professional bodies, such as the key institutes – the Energy Institute and IET both have excellent magazines – and professional media companies that have put more content online.

So what’s been so good?

Energy is such a fast-changing world these days that a mix of media and events is certainly needed just to keep everyone abreast of current information. Events such as Energy Live 2016 do this very effectively by creating interest across the sector, putting an eclectic mix of end-users, suppliers and a sprinkling of consultants together for the mutual good but in a fun and enjoyable way which usually ensures that important messages and learnings “stick”.

Making the process enjoyable is vitally important as few will turn up to boring events in this competitive world. Listening to what works is vitally important for commercial success.

Most importantly, it gives everyone a chance, whichever part of the industry they may be from, even an odd politician to provide contrast, to put forward their views – often to be challenged robustly if their views don’t accord with those present. Debate is important as long as it’s not seen as the “be all and end all” where pragmatic action falls by the wayside – something many politicians may perhaps be accused of over recent years.

Other big benefits

With a passionate interest in training, I’ve observed that the level of information put out around innovative products, services and systems has improved immeasurably.

Continuous education at all levels is, I think, a very creditable achievement of the energy media.

Given the inertia in application of new regulation/legislation, the highlighting of benefits as well as pitfalls and with a level of debate on suitability, is critical. Whilst there are those who actively seek to pre-empt the future, there will always be those who similarly seek to ignore it. Media pressure is vital to get the word out there. Often the more people who are aware of some new rule or regulation, the more likely it is to be tackled effectively.

Just allowing suppliers and energy companies of all shades that have had their fair share of criticism, the opportunity to put their side of the case in a semi-formal way is important as it helps to maintain good supplier-client relationships.

Innovation has also been a key factor in growing the media effectiveness within energy. I remember the concern at ELN when Sumit and Geoff and at the time their small team were looking to launch the first Energy Live event a few years back and whether they were being too innovative and different. That never seems to be a particular problem and in fact trying new things usually has been very successful. Some of the things which didn’t work have been quietly dropped but that’s the nature of the whole industry. Nothing can stand still in the energy world.

What can be further improved?

It’s been evident that all those involved in the energy media have taken on board the feedback of their wider customer base and provided what they wanted, given that much of the coverage, through trial and error occasionally, has now been well tested and needs further innovation.

One thing I have noticed is the reduced level of comment from those who receive all the masses of information from all sources within the energy media; often I think this is due to there being so much material available that it’s difficult to form a view and express it on everything.

Looking forward…

It’s clearly a sign of the level of interest in the subjects of and around energy that there is now almost a conference or seminar or exhibition somewhere in the UK, added to which is the huge number of people attending from the industry itself as well as associated academia, funding sources and government.

Energy Live is one of the best attended – and for me and many others the most enjoyable – of this multitude of events and it promises to build on the experience it has gained over recent years to provide a similarly successful experience this year.

It has come a long way and seems to come around very quickly but is now eagerly awaited by all – quite an achievement in itself!

#EL2016 is on November 3rd at the Barbican Centre in London. See you all there!

Mervyn Bowden is the MD of Intuitive Energy Solutions.