The Retail Energy industry team within the FTI Consulting Strategic Communications Practice includes sector experts with experience representing a broad range of organisations and companies, from start-ups to multinationals. Our clients benefit from the team’s relationships with key influencers to seize opportunities, manage crises, navigate market disruptions, articulate brands, stake a competitive position, and preserve a client’s permission to operate. We have the breadth and depth of experience to help clients clarify, persuade and ensure that the right message reaches the right audience at the right time.
Our Service Offerings
Historically, the energy industry in general and its participants have not always communicated their narrative as effectively as they could. External communications have often been non-existent or guarded at best. As a result, corporate reputations and public trust in the industry has become low. Companies need to tell their story, not just after a regulatory fine or some other crisis, but on an ongoing basis to communicate what they’re about, what they’re doing (and why) and why they are competent and can be trusted. Corporate communications essentially boils down to undertaking the everyday “heartbeat outreach” to build, sustain and defend an organisation’s reputation. FTI Consulting Strategic Communications professionals are highly experienced and well equipped to help individual companies and entire industry sectors defend their licence to operate by highlighting innovation, sustainability, corporate responsibility and the enormous economic contribution they make to society, both as employers and providers of essential services.
Financial communications tend to be either defensive or offensive. On the defensive side, for example, companies may be experiencing a declining share price or a rising bond price. FTI Consulting Strategic Communications professionals are experienced at reaching and communicating with those stakeholders that influence financial performance — investor institutions, mutual and hedge funds and security analysts. It is critical that these audiences receive and understand a company’s key messages about corporate strengths, management strengths, corporate strategies and steps being taken to improve corporate performance. On the offensive side, financial communications should be ongoing, reinforcing the same company key messages — corporate strengths, management strengths, corporate strategies and steps being taken to improve corporate performance — usually in support of an IPO, acquisition, or to simply sustain existing share price performance.
FTI Consulting has represented private equity clients in the retail energy sector both proactively and reactively. Whether our client is a company that is the target of a hostile takeover or a private equity firm or hedge fund attempting to acquire a retail energy company, we perform the same level of reputational due diligence. Our Strategic Communications professionals provide unparalleled business intelligence/privileged insight for client management and counsel. We then develop possible representational outcomes and apply our expertise in transaction communications, investor relations, public affairs, digital media and employee engagement.
Issues & Crisis Management
There are basically two types of crisis situations — a crisis of reputation where important audiences are losing faith in a company, its performance, and its leadership; or a high impact/low probability crisis, such as an explosion at a production facility or the death of a senior executive. To help clients prepare for such eventualities, FTI Consulting professionals take a campaign-like approach to these challenges, closely coordinating with management teams, as well as legal, financial and other advisers, to provide strategic counsel on all aspects of internal and external communications. We help identify, prioritise and track issues — economic, financial, political, industrial, or technical — that can impact on the client’s performance, its reputation, and its value. We then advise on how to address them proactively to achieve a positive outcome.
Companies must consider each stakeholder group separately to engage in a proper dialogue with them. It is critical that all stakeholders are identified, including the less obvious. FTI Consulting strategic communications specialists research all possible stakeholder groups, not just establishing who they are and how important they are to the company, but also what they want and need to know and what information the client can give them. This includes examining how our client has been communicating to them in the past and what it should be saying to them today and in the future. In addition, and just as importantly, clients need to listen to their stakeholders so that relevant messages can be crafted and addressed to each specific audience. FTI Consulting analyses and prioritises stakeholders and messages and develops programmes for clients that help facilitate audience-specific messaging to create a proper dialogue with those stakeholders with the greatest financial influence on the client’s business.
Public Affairs & Policy
Legislation and regulation have an enormous impact on the retail energy industry. As a result, political stakeholders, elected representatives at local and national levels, civil servants, people who work within the executive arm of the government, advisers, policy think tanks, commentators, and academics all play an important part in the public debate on energy issues. It is critical that a retail energy company’s communications help it be better known among these groups, help it be listened to more, and help its interests be better understood when decisions are being made that affect its business. FTI Consulting works both with individual companies, and their trade associations, to seek to affect government policy regarding permitting and licensing issues for retail energy operations, as well as issues affecting existing installations such as State Aid, patent discounts, etc. We also conduct grassroots campaigning in local communities to overcome potential resistance to a client’s new installations or assets.
The reputation of a company or organisation rests on the opinions of stakeholders such as investors, partners, employees, the media, customers, policymakers and the general public. Insights gained through research enable retail energy clients to better understand how their reputation impacts key organisational goals such as raising capital, attracting employees, evaluating new markets and maintaining credibility in crises. FTI Consulting uses a unique set of analytical tools to measure stakeholder beliefs and track progress based on reputational goals. Our research provides a fact-based approach to the conception, execution and measurement of corporate messaging. By understanding current stakeholder attitudes, clients can develop optimal messaging and the channels to convey it.
Legislative and regulatory pressure is becoming more prevalent in the retail energy sector, which increases a company’s compliance obligations and can jeopardise its licence to operate. Managing political risk is a growing imperative for effective corporate governance and business planning. FTI Consulting combines public policy, capital markets and sector-specific expertise to offer a unique capability for retail energy clients operating at the critical intersection between business and government. Our involvement can extend from specific retail energy issues to on-going government campaigning in support of client positions on tax, environmental or public policy issues.
From time to time, participants in energy retail markets may find themselves involved in some way in competition investigations relating to alleged antitrust violations, regulatory scrutiny of an M&A transaction, claims of state aid, or sector inquiries. Communicating effectively to the press, to relevant regulatory and legislative stakeholders, and to a firm’s investors and employees is a key component of protecting the firm’s reputation, allowing the business to function normally while the investigation is ongoing, and securing a rationale outcome. In these situations, FTI Consulting Strategic Communications professionals specialise in helping clients to interact constructively with political and regulatory audiences in articulating the larger business and political contexts in which the company operates, and the ways in which the public benefits as a result.
Rebranding & New Message Development
Rebranding can be a defensive or offensive strategy for a retail energy company. The company may need to distance itself from a negative perception that exists in the minds of consumers, investors, competitors, and other stakeholders. On the other hand, the company may want to communicate a new corporate strategy and messaging that the old brand cannot support. In either case, rebranding usually involves radical changes. FTI Consulting Strategic Communications specialists work with our clients to develop a consistent message framework for addressing key issues that affect the new brand. At the same time, we take a structured, research-based approach to identify, map and prioritise stakeholders to help create tailored messages that will strengthen stakeholder support. We can then develop the new brand's logo, name, legal names, image, marketing strategy and advertising and public relations themes.