Last week, Tesla announced that it had used its solar panels and batteries to restore reliable electricity at San Juan’s Hospital del Niño. This was a mere three weeks after Elon Musk first tweeted that he had already built power systems using solar and batteries for smaller islands, and that the absence of scalability issues would allow him to do the same for hurricane devastated Puerto Rico.
Oh, did I mention, he did this for free???
But before we chalk it up to simply a wonderful charitable gesture for a population truly in need, let’s try to think of a higher profile opportunity to showcase Tesla’s Powerwall technology than the island of Puerto Rico. Can’t think of it? Neither can I.
What a great public relations coup! As one might expect, the solar panels generate electricity during the day and the batteries that store the power distribute it when the sun isn’t shining. In two days, the Instagram photo of the solar panels outside the hospital had been liked over 100,000 times, and a myriad of news and lifestyle publications had made Tesla and the hospital a lead story.
And if Tesla can succeed in restoring power to Puerto Rico with innovative technology, envision how well that same technology can work for a car. Or a home. Or a city.
Tesla isn’t alone in the Puerto Rico PR party. Google parent Alphabet has just secured FCC approval to restore cellular service to Puerto Rico by launching large balloons over the island. Whether Alphabet does this for free or at cost isn’t the point. They now can demonstrate their ability to create an investment worthy tool for disaster recovery.
Imagine if your company or brand had a showcase opportunity to do well by doing good. Patagonia just began airing its first television advertisement ever in August. The topic – the ongoing governmental threat to America’s public lands. That’s right, the ads did not feature their new line of clothing, but did feature the outdoors where that clothing is worn and an issue their target audience cares about deeply.
Of course, this was not the first time Patagonia has focused on doing good in areas its customers care about. It’s part of their mission and their culture. No surprise, Patagonia’s sales have doubled to $800 million from 2010 to 2016.
Your company has the same opportunity. You just have to take the time to identify the need, and leverage your company’s resources to help. Help a cause that is closely tied to your brand, and cause your brand to benefit. It’s a simple formula to win twice with one well thought out strategic action.