Powering the Powerhouse

Last week, IPPR North published a report on the North of England’s potential to become a world-leader in the production of renewable energy. The report considers three alternative futures for the energy sector in the North:

  1. The North as an energy leader – pioneering new approaches to energy production, innovation and decarbonisation.
  2. The North as a technological adopter – implementing, but not driving, new technologies to achieve decarbonisation and energy supply / demand targets.
  3. The North as an energy drifter – failing to exploit current opportunities and becoming increasingly dependent on imported energy technology and resources.

At Counter Context, we are privileged to be involved in a number of pioneering and world leading renewable energy projects in the North of England. From our experience in this sector, and our roots in this part of the country, we are confident that the North is already well-progressed in becoming a world-leader in the production of renewable energy. We are committed to helping ensure that the first option in IPPR North’s report becomes a reality.

The UK needs energy that is secure, sustainable and affordable. Perhaps some consider this to be a fundamental trade-off, and one that can’t be resolved by renewable energy initiatives. To the contrary, projects underway and in the pipeline in the North have the key to solving this puzzle.

Counter Context has been able to witness first-hand the innovation taking place on some of the largest renewable energy projects the country has seen. The combination of ongoing innovation and the growing scale of renewable infrastructure means that the trade-off between energy affordability and energy sustainability is diminishing rapidly. As developers continue to drive down costs of renewable energy projects, our clients will be able to deliver energy that is both clean and affordable. Over recent years, the North has helped to facilitate this industrial-scale growth of the renewable energy sector, in particular offshore wind power projects.

The third element of the UK’s well cited ‘Energy Trilemma’ – energy security – can also be addressed by renewable projects. In the UK, including the North of England, we are lucky enough to have natural conditions that favour efficient renewable energy projects – such as some of the windiest conditions in Europe. These conditions mean the North is well placed to utilise inexhaustible energy sources to deliver energy to millions of homes without fail. Last Friday the UK went the whole day without using coal to generate electricity – the first time this has happened since the 1880s. The growth of the renewables sector means this can happen more and more.

Supply chain benefits
As well as supplying clean energy to help achieve the UK’s needed and ambitious decarbonisation targets, the renewable sector also brings significant socio-economic benefits and opportunities. This has been evidenced in the Humber region by Siemens – the largest wind turbine manufacturer in the world – opening a new manufacturing and assembly plant in Hull, which is expected to bring 1,000 direct jobs to the region. The potential supply chain benefits associated with the renewable sector are enormous. We have seen the benefits of facilitating cross-working between our clients, LEPs and business enterprises to help establish world-leading supply chains in this growing sector.

Of course, while large scale infrastructure projects benefit the whole of the UK, through the delivery of clean and affordable energy alongside economic investment, they have particular impacts on the local communities in which they are built. A significant portion of our contribution to the delivery of NSIP projects involves engaging with these local stakeholders, ensuring that they are kept updated of project works and have clear channels through which to contact developers, so that honest and trusting relationships can be established. A number of schemes include Community Benefit Funds to support public and environmental initiatives, allowing members of the local community the opportunity to directly benefit from the projects. This social contribution is in addition to the job creation the projects bring.

In summary, to us it is clear that the North is already committed to the sustainable energy economy, and is set to become a world-leading area for renewable innovation and generation. To find out how we can help you take part in this imminent energy revolution, get in touch.

PR and proud

This month we contributed to Sheffield Telegraph’s quarterly business review. We wrote about PR ; exploring what it actually means to offer ‘public relations’ as a service, and what businesses can expect from good PR representation. 

Counter Context is a communications company, working in the UK and beyond for over 20 years. Only very recently have we started referring to ourselves as a PR company. Why the sudden change?

We have seen how the term PR has become devalued by many and associated with distrust of government and big business. Ask most people in the street to describe PR and they will tell you it likely involves flashy events, spin, disingenuous news stories and publicity stunts. Ask most companies and they regard PR as the need to churn out endless press releases.

Despite this, we have started to use the term PR to describe our work. The industry needs to go back to the true meaning of the phrase – public relations.

We help our clients to achieve success through building genuine and mutually beneficial relationships. Our work is founded on the belief that honest, open and two-way communication helps to build understanding, trust and support in ideas, projects and organisations.

Our work does often involve organising events, writing a press release or doing something fun to catch people’s attention. Our focus is on informing and building understanding, not tricking or distracting the public. PR changes perspectives, but not through manipulation of the truth or twisting the facts.

A good PR company will not tell you to lie, ask you to be something you are not or cover up a crisis.  A good PR company will advise you to connect with your stakeholders; the people who influence and who are influenced by your business. They will advise you to find out what your stakeholders want and the impact that your business may have on them.

Your actions will not always meet with stakeholder approval. This will inevitably risk relations with your customers, employees, suppliers, investors and the wider public. A good PR company will help you to explain your actions in an honest and sincere way and they will help you to rebuild and strengthen relations with the public.

PR is about telling positive stories. PR is not about covering up the bad and hoping people do not notice.

We support clients delivering massive commercial and infrastructure developments. Companies that are disrupting journeys, making noise and changing skylines. Inevitably this will upset some people. What we do is work directly with the public to understand their worries and, in turn, to help them understand the work of our clients.

We find that encouraging conversations rather than monologues builds trust, and with trust often comes support.


Counter Context sponsors joint working event for the North

Our latest press release announces Counter Context’s sponsorship of the upcoming pro-manchester Transport and Infrastructure Pan North Lunch.

Communications and public affairs company, Counter Context, is the headline sponsor of an exclusive roundtable discussion between leading figures from the North of England, working to deliver strategic policy and development in the North.

The Transport and Infrastructure Pan North Lunch, which takes place on 25 April, is being organised and hosted by pro-manchester, the North West’s largest business development organisation. During this invite-only event, leading figures in the North will debate opportunities for, and potential constraints to, achieving effective joint working.

Based across Sheffield and Manchester and operating primarily within the built environment, infrastructure and transport networks, Counter Context has a vested interest in collaborative working across the North. As founding members of pro-manchester’s Transport and Infrastructure Sector Group, the communications company regularly contributes to knowledge sharing amongst sector peers, with a view to improving connectivity in this part of the country.

Their participation at this event will ensure that Sheffield City Region, a major gateway to the Northern Powerhouse is represented and considered in the debate. Alexis Krachai, Managing Director of Counter Context, comments:

“We are privileged to have offices in two exciting and dynamic northern cities and we have seen first-hand what collaboration across the Pennines can do. Our sponsorship of the Pan North Lunch demonstrates a commitment to supporting and promoting growth in Northern England, and making sure that the key cities pull together to offer first class connectivity.

“Both Sheffield City Region and Manchester have huge potential in what they can bring to the Northern Powerhouse agenda and I look forward to sharing thoughts and ideas, as well as concerns at this important event.”

The aim of pro-manchester is to produce a summary paper from the discussion which will then be used to influence and shape a future event, designed to disseminate the findings to a wider audience.

The Transport and Infrastructure Pan North Lunch will take place on 25 April in Manchester. Whilst it is an invite-only event, you can find out more information and register your interest for follow-up events, here: