Matt Krayton Reveals the Hidden Power of Clean Energy Communication


In this episode, we have an enlightening conversation with Matt Krayton, Founder and Principal of Publitics, a leading consultancy in public affairs, political strategy, and public relations for the digital era. Matt shares his journey from aspiring history teacher to prominent climate advocate, providing insights into the intersection of media, public opinion, and strategic communication.

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Transcript

Welcome to Green Giants: Titans of Renewable Energy, the podcast where insights and innovation meet. Every episode, we dive into conversations with industry leaders, experts and change makers, bringing you the stories and ideas in the renewable energy sector that shape our world. And now let’s jump into today’s episode with your host, Wes Ashworth.

Wes Ashworth (00:25)

Welcome to our latest episode of Green Giants: Titans of Renewable Energy. Today we’re excited to host Matt Krayton, the founder and principal of Publitics, a top tier consultancy specializing in public affairs, political strategy, and public relations built for the digital era. Matt is a seasoned strategist known for his deep understanding of the interplay between media, public opinion, and strategic communication. At Publitics, Matt and his team provide expert counsel to a diverse clientele, including campaigns, candidates, executives, founders, organizations, and brands, helping them navigate complex communication challenges.

Furthermore, Matt serves as the communications lead at the Mid-Atlantic Clean Hydrogen Hub, MACH-2, one of seven hydrogen hubs being developed across the US. This role places him at the forefront of advocating for sustainable and innovative energy solutions. Under Matt’s leadership, Publitics has grown into a formidable force in the consultancy world, known for deploying insight-driven advice and strategies that shape public opinion and achieve significant conversational victories. Join us as we explore Matt’s insights into the power of strategic communication and advancing the goals of the renewable energy sector and beyond. Matt, it’s great to have you and welcome to the show.

Matt Krayton (01:13.264)

Thank you for having me.

Wes Ashworth (01:15.292)

Yeah, so starting out, I always like to start with a little intro background. Can you tell our listeners a bit about your journey and what led you to establish Publitics?

Matt Krayton (01:23.6)

Yeah, I mean, that’s kind of a long, long story. So I’ll try to keep it relatively short. I joke that it’s sort of one of those very quintessential kind of millennial journeys to something different than what you thought you were going to do. So I thought I was going to be a classroom teacher to teach history in high school. So I went to college for that, did history of political sciences in undergrad, masters in education. So I was headed right for it and ended up doing my student teaching as well. And then, in 2008, the economy collapsed. And New Jersey, where I’m located and where I was planning to teach, the education budgets were cut across the board. So there were no jobs or anything like that. So I ended up in a position where I was like, “Man, what am I going to do?” So I ended up taking a couple of jobs right out of college. But I always had some interest in politics, public policy, things like that. And so the very, very short version of this is, I got laid off 10 months into my first job, again, the economic hangover and all that stuff. So I was like, I don’t want to do that again. So I’m going to make this crazy leap and try to do some consulting. So I took my savings and a credit card, started the business and I’ve been going ever since. Thankfully, it’s working out and I’m thrilled to be here today and to be working on some really cool projects. That’s the shortest version of how I got to where I was.

Wes Ashworth (02:51.612)

Yeah, that’s incredible. It’s funny, too, how those setbacks in life somehow just end up putting us in the right path or in the right direction and you end up probably somewhere that you didn’t necessarily imagine, but you’re glad when you arrive and you’re like, yeah, this is kind of where I feel like I should be. So what specifically inspired you to focus on communications within the renewable energy and climate sectors?

Matt Krayton (03:18.64)

Sure, so this is an area that I’ve always found interesting in that it is a relatively complex area where there are all sorts of different science concepts that go into it. There are huge policy implications for climate action. So that was always sort of an interesting area for me in that it happened to be one of the more challenging spaces to be in because climate is something that we, and clean energy is a part of that, is something that we experience every day, but we don’t necessarily think about. We are in a climate, there’s weather happening around us, shifts in patterns and things like that. But it’s not something that we always are cognizant of. Same thing with how we get our energy, right? So you flip a light switch on the wall, power comes, lights come on. You don’t really think about where that’s coming from exactly all the time. Sometimes you do, but not all that frequently. I think you think about it when the power goes out, right? More so it’s like, “Why is my…?” So when the power’s not there, you think about it. But I think generally when you’re flipping that switch, you’re not thinking about it. So from our perspective, it’s important, it’s complex, it’s an interesting space. And it just so happens to sort of fit within the values of the firm that we’re trying to build, which is to do things that help improve the world around us. So that sort of all fit into the general mold that we were trying to build here.

Wes Ashworth (04:58.14)

Yeah, no, I love it. And still kind of like infusing the passion that you have for it, obviously making a difference there. And just just the fact of, I think you’re a teacher at heart, right? You just alluded to sort of getting those messages out, teaching others, communicating. So, no, I’m glad, glad folks like yourself are out there and helping get the right messages out there and help information and all that as well, too. So switching a little bit to MACH-2, we touched on that in the intro there. So as a communications lead at MACH-2, can you explain the main goals and initiatives of MACH-2 and what they’re trying to accomplish?

Matt Krayton (05:36.048)

Sure, so MACH-2 is a part of the broader H2Hubs program that was developed by the Department of Energy as a part of the bipartisan infrastructure law. So essentially, it provided, I think it was, don’t quote me on this exact number, but I think it’s $7 billion nationwide to establish, at the time it was 6 to 10 different hydrogen hubs across the country in geographically strategic areas. And so what ultimately ended up shaking out was, it was sort of right in between, so seven. So seven hubs came out of that process. MACH-2 happened to be one of them. So MACH- 2 covers what we would call part of the mid-Atlantic region. So it’s South Jersey, Southeast Pennsylvania, and Delaware, all of Delaware.

So the purpose of exploring hydrogen as a means of energy and then also energy storage is really to, it’s a targeted solution. So it’s one tool in a much broader suite of tools that we have to combat climate change and then also improve public health too, if we’re talking about reducing criteria pollutants and things like that. So I think that the… I’m starting at a very high level. So the broader purpose is like, I think you can electrify most of the economy, right? Like, in reasonably well, most consumer facing applications, things like your home, most consumer vehicles, your car, if you’re not commuting super, super long distances, things like that can be electrified fairly easily. And I think that’s probably the direction things are going to go. Then you have about 30% of the global economy that is very hard to decarbonize. So what we’re talking about in that 30% are energy intensive heavy industrial applications. So for example, manufacturing steel, cement, things that we need every day for building or roads and other infrastructure. The other manufacturing processes, for example, manufacturing ammonia, is, you know, we need ammonia for all sorts of different things, everything from cleaning products to agricultural purposes. And then, and this list is far from exhaustive, so then the other things that we’re kind of taking a look at, our logistics. So long haul shipping in trucking where batteries are not practical, too heavy. They have too much of a mass for it to be a practical thing. Maritime shipping, that’s another area. So we’re talking about those big container ships, big emitters, but we need them, right? Like, we live in a global economy where we need to ship things, there are supply chains, and so decarbonizing that, decarbonizing heavy equipment, in some cases, like bulldozers and backhoes and just big industrial equipment. And then aviation, there’re applications there potentially. And then, yeah, so I think those are the big ones. Those really, really hard to decarbonize sectors. So I think hydrogen could be, again, an answer in this space.

So yeah, so for MACH-2, it’s the hub. I know this is a very long-winded answer for this. But I think people are a little confused about what a hydrogen hub is. So as we’re having more conversations about these hubs, and what we’re trying to do, I think when you think “hydrogen hub”, you think of one building, right? And that’s something that we get a lot. It’s like, where are you going to build the hub, which is like a single structure somewhere. And that’s not exactly what we’re talking about. So essentially, what a hydrogen hub is, is a network of producers, consumers and connective infrastructure.

So each hub, including MACH-2, is going to have a multitude of different hydrogen producers. So our particular hub, we’re looking at green, predominantly green hydrogen with a small mix of pink and orange hydrogen as well, which are all done without the use of fossil fuels. So, you know, that and all of that, with the exception of the one potential orange project, is done using electrolysis, which I can get into a little bit later.

But yeah, so that’s sort of like the idea behind the hydrogen hub concept is, it’ll help decarbonize some of these industries, particularly in the mid-Atlantic. If you look at pollution maps, a lot of the communities in our region have been entirely overburdened by pollution. They’ve had to shoulder a disproportionate burden of air pollution, unfortunately, and because of the industrial past of this area, but hopefully industrial future as well because industry means jobs and opportunities for folks. If you can do that in a clean way, I think that that makes a whole lot of sense. So that’s the broad rationale.

Wes Ashworth (10:52.348)

No, perfect. And just to pause real quick for those that don’t know, can you in maybe just a really basic description – so you talk about green, pink, orange hydrogen. What does that mean to the general public that maybe doesn’t know?

Matt Krayton (11:07.152)

Yeah, so I will first start by saying if I could find the person who decided to color code hydrogen, I would go find them and say, maybe consider a different, very gently, but please consider a different way of categorizing hydrogen. So there are a couple of like, I’ll start with a few misconceptions. So this idea of green, pink, orange, hydrogen, the actual hydrogen itself is the same across the board. So it refers to how it’s produced, which I think is a little confusing. So people think green hydrogen, somehow that molecule is different than gray or blue hydrogen. That’s not the case. It’s all the same type of hydrogen. It’s just the method for producing it. So green hydrogen is produced using electrolysis, which is a process – and I’m giving you the layman’s answer. I defer to the scientist on exactly how the membranes work and AEMs versus PEMs and different things like that – but at a very basic level, electrolysis separates, uses renewable electricity to separate hydrogen atoms from oxygen in water. And then, the byproduct is oxygen and then some leftover water as well. So it’s a very clean process. And that’s powered by your renewables like wind, hydroelectric, and solar, and then other, types of renewable.

Pink is the same thing, hydrogen produced using electrolysis, but the electricity inputs are from nuclear. So again, emission-free power to produce the hydrogen and then orange in our case. So there is some difference. I mean, again, these are sort of like emerging colors. I had a conversation the other day where someone was telling me about shades of different blue hydrogen, like there’s turquoise hydrogen and like aqua. Come on, can we just like, let’s just try to come up with it. We have to come up with a better system for this.

But orange hydrogen is different. So the way that we’re defining it, and this is sort of an accepted definition, is that there’s one project where we’re looking to use bio methane from a wastewater treatment plant. So methane emissions are an unavoidable byproduct of wastewater treatment. You just can’t, you simply just cannot avoid it. So there have been a lot of advances to capture those emissions, but methane is, you know, one of the worst greenhouse gases out there. So things have gotten a lot better. But in this case, you can use biomethane to produce hydrogen using steam methane reformation, and then carbon capture of some kind. So capturing the carbon dioxide, which is a byproduct of that, rather than flaring the methane, which emits anyway. So you have to flare some portion of the methane. So instead of doing that, you can essentially use it to create clean hydrogen at the end of the day. So those are the three predominant types.

And then in other hubs, I know there’s some talk about using blue hydrogen, which is using natural gas, steam, methane reformation with carbon capture, but we don’t have any of that in our hub. So we’re green, pink and orange, but mostly green.

Wes Ashworth (14:24.988)

Yeah, cool. Your quick lesson in all the colors that go into hydrogen right there. Yeah, the key. So in a previous conversation we had, you mentioned the public often lacks context on how we might solve climate change. And I think this is a really important issue, that it is really big, it is really complex, and we don’t necessarily know, what does that mean for me? How do I start? What do I do? So I’ll get into that, but the first question is, what are some of the common misconceptions you encounter about clean energy and hydrogen and just in general?

Matt Krayton (15:12.784)

So going back to this idea of like, you flip your light switch and you don’t really know where any of this stuff is coming from, right? It could be a gas fired plant. Some places could be a coal fired plant, could be nuclear, could be renewable of some kind. So people just generally don’t have a sense of where their, in particular, electricity is coming from. Now, when you fuel up your car using petroleum gas, gasoline, or whatever, people understand where that’s coming from. They know what they’re putting in their car. That’s something that we’ve been familiar with for a very long time. With some of the renewable options, there’s not a whole lot of context for how some of these technologies help, how much of that’s coming into your home, generally speaking. So interestingly, what we see is a greater familiarity with solar.

And that’s not terribly surprising because you can put solar panels on your own roof and then you see your bill and you see how much energy you’re producing. So that’s a very concrete thing for people to wrap their heads around. Offshore wind is a little bit different, in that it’s a little further off. You’re not obviously going to be sticking a giant turbine on your property in most cases, unless you live on a farm somewhere and you have the space to put some of the on-land turbines, which do exist and you know, they’re great. But offshore, again, it’s sort of this abstract thing that people don’t understand. So from that perspective, when you don’t understand something, support is not as galvanized or strong for those types of clean energy technologies. So there’s some education that’s needed there. And then also, there’s not a huge amount of context for other types of fossil fuel sources like natural gas, for example. People think “natural gas”, they don’t really know what it is though. They don’t know that it’s kind of like methane, that’s fossil fuel.

So, when you ask people, should we increase or decrease production of different types of energy, it’s very hard for people to wrap their heads around most forms of energy. Nuclear is the same thing that kind of got a little bit of a bad rap actually for a while. So there are some mixed opinions on nuclear as well, even though it’s, in my view, very safe, and probably one of the best options. I mean, you see statistics about the amount of carbon that was essentially never put into the atmosphere as a result of the nuclear energy that we have in this country. And it’s a staggering amount of reduction, which is really good. So I think we’d be in a much, much worse place without that too. So I think there’s some mixed opinions on that. And again, it’s sort of like one of those things that we are so far removed from at this point in terms of, again, you flip the switch, have no idea where that current’s coming from.

Wes Ashworth (18:08.636)

Yeah, without a doubt. And I think that’s kind of human tendency sometimes, to be a bit myopic. You know, it’s sort of your three-foot world of your life and your house and your living, and you flip the switch and it happens. You don’t really give it much thought. But I do see that changing. And I think people are asking more questions and becoming more curious, which I think is great and why we need folks like yourself that are getting these messages out there.

So in terms of communicating those sorts of things, so how do you approach the challenge of communicating some of these complex climate initiatives and different things as you just described that? You know, sometimes it’s hard for people to get their heads kind of wrapped around it and understand it and understand what’s the impact to me and what can I do about it? So how do you approach that challenge of communicating some of these complex issues to a general audience that may not be deeply familiar with the issues at hand?

Matt Krayton (19:07.056)

Sure. So to your point about people paying attention, you just made, about where things are coming from. You have to also think about the amount of things that demand our attention every day. Who has time to sit around thinking, where does this electricity come from? So you have regular life stuff that you have to deal with, right? Like getting the kids to soccer practice, making dinner, making sure that you’re getting to and from work, and all of those different things. So there’s plenty of that. And then you have Netflix and Hulu and stuff that you could sit down. In fact, you can even stare at your phone while you’re watching Netflix, right? So it’s like demands on attention are really hard. So it’s hard to kind of punch through with messaging on some of this stuff.

But what I would say is that, when we’re thinking about communicating any topic, particularly with climate change, so you referenced it a little bit earlier, it’s such a big problem. And it seems so much larger than any one of us or any collective of us can actually solve because it just seems so big. So sometimes there’s this human tendency to look at a big problem and say, it’s just so big, I’m just going to put that in the back of my mind and not really think about it too much. And that’s fair because it’s kind of a big, scary thing. So what we try to do is create and break it down into more digestible pieces or make concrete connections with people’s everyday lives. So for example, when you’re talking about weather, for example, extreme weather, you can make those connections to specific weather events and climate and the frequency of those weather events. So maybe we would get these sort of deluge-type rainstorms every, I don’t know, 20 years. Now we’re getting it almost every summer, maybe twice, three times a summer, at least here in Jersey where I am right now. I mean, the main street, which is just a few steps away from where I’m sitting, we’re not by a body of water or anything like that, but several times in the last couple of years, it has flooded. Like an actual flash flood, like knee-high water in some places. Stores, businesses were flooded. That’s very unusual, right? So kind of making that concrete connection rather than saying, “I don’t know where this came from. This is weird” And it’s like, OK, well, actually, here’s why this is happening. We have all these different atmospheric conditions because of climate change where you have the jet stream weakening and all sorts of other weird stuff happening because of climate change, things are getting hotter and that’s why we’re here. I think making things super concrete is important. Then also drawing a direct line from the solution. Some of these things, like offshore wind, for example, people don’t really need to do anything. They just need to let it happen.

So you kind of have to fill the information vacuum a little bit and make sure that you’re communicating ahead of time to make sure that there is support enough for these things rather than ending up in an information vacuum. So we’ll just use Jersey again. But a lot of mid-Atlantic states had a similar situation where we had some whales washing up on the beach recently. And of course, the folks who were opposed to offshore wind, they started to try to blame the survey equipment that they use to identify the areas where they’re going to put the footings for this offshore wind. So where there’s an information vacuum, you have a bad thing. And then there is no information to fill the vacuum after that. So the whales wash up, an information vacuum that gets filled with like, if you’re not going to do it, and move quickly and sort of pre-message that stuff, it’s going to get filled with stuff that’s just not true, right? So the sonar equipment, or the frequency of the turbines, that’s killing whales – no, it’s not, there is no evidence that supports that. What is happening, however, is because of climate change, you have changing ocean currents and migratory patterns of baitfish and food sources for these things. So they come closer to shore, and then they get hit by boats and then they wash up or beach themselves because they’re injured because they got hit by a boat prop, which is the majority of what’s happening here. But again, that’s the explanation.

The problem is if there’s a vacuum there, it’s like people are going to start, and groups too that want to prevent the development of offshore wind are going to fill that vacuum. So I think it’s very important to be proactive about communicating through some of these things as well, as proactive as possible. I mean, you’re not going to identify or predict every scenario that you have, that you’re going to run into, but it’s worth trying to just get the facts out there and educate people as much as possible about what this is going to do.

And then the third thing, too, is making the economic argument about this. So the more of this we can do, the less expensive energy is going to get. America is going to continue to become even more energy-independent than it is. I mean, right now we’re in really good shape from an international perspective on energy independence. We don’t rely on a lot of other places for oil at this point or other types of energy. We’re in much better shape than Europe is, from a geopolitical perspective when it comes to energy. So connecting the development of additional renewable capacity to affordability eventually is super important as well because that’s where we’re headed if we can do this and we keep growing in the same direction.

Wes Ashworth (24:56.028)

Yeah, no, it’s such an important point. And I think especially to really get that mainstream adoption and just the full embracing of it, it’s got to make sense financially. The reliability we talk a lot about has got to be there. I mean, a lot of those things that have to happen. So digging into this a bit more, because I love this topic and I think it is such an important one in terms of people thinking it’s too big, too great, too difficult. I don’t know exactly what I can do individually. I can’t. I would say the majority of people at this point care, right? Like there’s that, I think there was a point where maybe that wasn’t the case, but I think the sentiment I get now is, most people care. What practical steps do you see that individuals can take in their daily lives to contribute to climate solutions? And even if their actions might seem small in the grand scheme of things, what would you recommend for people as far as first steps and what they can do?

Matt Krayton (25:52.848)

Sure. I mean, so there are a number of things people can do in terms of electrical, electric efficiency or energy efficiency in their homes. So you can do all sorts of upgrades. There are a lot of tax credits available through the IRA, Inflation Reduction Act, that are actively making those things a whole lot more affordable for people to do. And then long term will reduce, long term and short term really reduce electric bills and things like that. So insulating windows, making sure that HVAC systems are upgraded, so heat pumps, there are other sorts of technologies as well. So the IRA has a whole bunch of tax credits for that. Solar is another piece. So those are little things that individuals can do there. Eventually, owning an EV is going to be a net positive for climate reduction. Right now, we’re sort of in that transition period where it’s not perfect. But again, nothing is going to be perfect, especially right away. So you just need to start with something. And if you’re starting with EVs, I’m happy with that. Like, let’s just get consumer adoption going and then continue to figure out the rest later. So I think, personally, those are things that you can do. I mean, a really sort of sneaky emitter is food waste. I mean, that’s a huge problem, I think incredibly undervalued in terms of undercover source of methane emissions. So if you dump food, for example, in your garbage, and then that goes out to landfill that decomposes and that decomposition process creates methane emissions at a pretty massive level. So if you can even do some home composting or participate in a community composting program, I think those things are extraordinarily helpful. And if a lot of people do it, then that all accrues to a huge benefit.

But one of the other things that I think people can do too is help support broader solutions as well. So get out there and be as vocal as you can about supporting increased solar capacity, increased wind capacity. Because the more we can do that, those are big, you’re taking big bites out of the climate problem at that point. But if there is this perception of a lack of political or community will for some of this stuff, then a lot of these projects get delayed. They become untenable in some cases, permitting becomes very difficult. Eventually it moves forward, but it’s not great. So I think if you’re concerned about climate and there is an opportunity for your community to do something or to play a small part in all of that, I think being as vocal as possible in supporting those. And it can be hard, I get it, because there’s always going to be opposition, people can be pretty angry about certain things, and it’s hard to stand up and say, “Actually, I support this, I think this is really good. Overall, it’s going to create jobs for our communities. It’s going to make our electricity a hell of a lot cheaper and it’s going to clean up our planet.” But I think, yeah, so those are the big things that people can do, even contacting elected officials. If there’s some project and you can write an email saying, you know what, I support offshore wind, I support solar development, I support these things. Let’s do it responsibly and try to all pitch in.

Wes Ashworth (29:25.18)

Yeah, I love those very good practical things anybody can listen to and take into effect. And I think I love the simplicity of even the food waste and something probably the majority of people really don’t even think twice about. Like it’s probably never on their radar, never on their minds. So if anything, like I hope you’ll come over from this message and consider that as like, hey, here’s an easy way to start and do something. And I think especially like, it’s amazing how many people I talk to, and I think through the the COVID-19 pandemic where I’m gardening now or I started a little patio-raised the flower or garden or I’m growing my own vegetables or I’m doing these kinds of things, factor in compost to that and now you’ve really helped solve a couple different problems. So I think there’s simple things right and we just, to your point, we just have to start. That’s the most important thing.

Matt Krayton (30:18.608)

Yeah, I mean, compost has a lot of benefits, you know, in addition to gardening and reducing the need for pesticides and other other types of chemical treatments for crops. It also, when used for fill for infrastructure projects, it actually holds together and is more resistant to erosion than just regular soil too. So compost actually helps with that sort of stuff. So there are a lot of benefits to it, but you’d be surprised at how much opposition there is for commercial scale composting too. Like we had a client a few years ago, well, we’re still kind of working with them, but they were trying to site a composting facility on a piece of farmland that they owned and the neighbors absolutely lost their minds. Now, mind you, this is really an interesting study and you know how to, well, was an interesting study and sort of not my backyard kind of stuff, which prevents a lot of progress. So in this particular area, you had a development in a subdivision with single family homes, and then stones throw from there, you actually had a chemical factory, like they manufacture chemicals, or it’s not clean. I mean, not to cast aspersions on this particular thing, but it’s just the reality, right?

And then you had the farmland. So it wasn’t like a super residential area. Like there was a lot of industry and that sort of stuff. But the minute people got wind that they wanted to set up this sort of commercial scale composting facility, it’s just like, well, it’s going to contaminate this or that. It’s like, no, you’re actually just creating better soil. And then instead of using it in this crop, so the crops that they were farming this particular farmland, it was soybeans primarily for export, I think. But it wasn’t organic. So the idea was to convert this half of the field to organic farming, which is even better because the groundwater doesn’t soak up any of the additional chemicals and things that they use.

So it was kind of an interesting study. It’s like even composting can fall victim to some of this, like, “I don’t want this near me.” But, at the end of the day, we all live in, well, I don’t know, is this the Joker quote, we live in a society or so? Yeah, we live in a society, right? And we’re gonna have to live near stuff if you want modern convenience, right? If you want, again, electricity, if you want to be able to go to your food store and pick up the types of food and produce that you want to pick up and you want to have just a cleaner air to breathe, right? Like, we all have to kind of live near something, whether it’s a solar array or composting facility or offshore wind to some extent. So it’s just, you have to kind of balance those things. You can’t have everything.

Wes Ashworth (33:08.828)

No question. And again, I think what you hit on there is furthermore just how important communication is as a whole to the industry. That a lot of these things, projects getting pushed back, initiatives getting delayed, the energy transition really being harder and more difficult than it already is, is already complex. But this lack of communication out there or understanding that people are opposing things that really aren’t founded upon factual data, right?

Any other things that you see in terms of the role of communications evolving as we advance towards environmental goals and towards the energy transition? How do you see the role of communications evolving as we go down that path further?

Matt Krayton (33:54.864)

I’m of the mind that we sort of have to have this “communications-first” mentality, like put it at the front line. It’d be great to be able to just develop these projects and build renewable capacity and clean up our environment just by virtue of it being a good thing for everybody. But the reality is there is always going to be some alternative viewpoint about whether or not we should be doing certain things. So I think leading with communication, leading with a mind toward fortifying the brand of renewable energy and touting the benefits. And then really trying to understand what makes the public tick.

So on our end, we do a lot of polling and focus groups and other sorts of public opinion research to try to figure out, how are people feeling about these things? Where are the gaps, too? I mean, that’s a huge thing. So you can, like one of the interesting things that you see is that a majority of Americans care about climate change. I think it’s a major issue. But then you kind of get into like, well, how do we fix this? I mean, this sort of references an earlier point that you made about like, how do we fix this? And there’s not a ton of agreement. I mean, there’s some agreement in certain places, not as much agreement in other places about how we’ve actually fixed the problem or how salient or how top-priority climate change should be relative to other things. Because of course, we live in a world where a million things are going on at once, and we need to figure out how to manage that and manage geopolitics and global affairs. You need to manage the economy. But it is all interconnected in some way. But I think making it super salient is a difficult thing because you can care about it, and this is with any issue, right? Any issue of policy is like, you can care about it. But it may be seventh down on your list, right? Or eighth down on the list. And at a certain point, how much does that factor into how that translates to policy? So if you have over 60%, and by some measures of people saying climate change is a really big problem in this country, you would think, okay, slam dunk, let’s get it done. But, again, the salience is a bit different depending upon how you look at it. And then the question of how comes into play, how do you figure it out? And what sort of policy prescriptions should you have? So, and you see all sorts of, again, like information vacuums, I would say, from a communications perspective is something you have to do.

Like this whole dust up over gas stoves was, it was ridiculous, right? I mean, so nobody was going to come kick down your door and steal your gas stove. But that was never going to happen ever. And it never will happen. It’s just not a thing, right? But it’s about creating policy alternatives so that people who don’t want to have gas stoves in their homes have that option to do so and can improve the health of their environment, right? So I have a gas stove in my house. I want to replace it. Because if you look at the research, it’s not great, the type of stuff. Now, some people love it. That’s fine. You can do that. No problem. But I think giving people the option to go in a different direction is really what we’re talking about. But you saw how that debate kind of transformed into, “You’re going to have to pry my stove out of my cold dead hands” type thing. And it’s like, you just picture someone holding on for dear life to the oven door. Like, “No, you can’t have it.” But that was never going to happen, right? But that became sort of a rallying cry and then became very polarized. I mean, that’s the other thing, too, from a communications perspective, is that once you start viewing things through a polarizing lens, you see very real differences in how people experience objective reality, which is crazy. Like even extreme weather events, right? Like you look at a partisan divide and there is a difference. There is actually a difference in what people are willing to admit.

Wes Ashworth (37:56.956)

Without question. And again, I think furthermore, which I’ve said multiple times, but just the importance of communications of this, evolving of it, continuing to be more in the forefront. And I like what you said earlier, just it’s got to be proactive. You can’t wait until it’s a problem or what have you because that vacuum is there and what’s going to fill that vacuum is misinformation probably. Don’t quote me on the stat because I don’t do stats, but 99% of the time probably, misinformation gets put in that vacuum if the message isn’t out there.

Well, we’re coming up on time, but I want to have some closing thoughts. So if listeners can take away one message from our conversation today, what would you want it to be?

Matt Krayton (38:50.896)

I would say that if you’re in the clean energy space, like exactly what you just said, plan ahead, try to figure out what your message is, try to figure out how to connect that to every day, above the public’s everyday lives, try to figure out how to make it super concrete, make the benefits super concrete for people, the less abstract something is, the better off you are. So having that strong communications plan ahead of time, and then always measuring and re-measuring and just understanding where people are on particular issues in particular areas is extraordinarily important. And so that’s what I would say is like, if you’re gonna do anything, take some time, invest in how you’re thinking about these issues and then how you try to approach and tackle these issues.

Wes Ashworth (39:35.964)

Yeah, well said. Beyond that, any final thoughts or insights you’d like to share with the audience and then we’ll conclude, but I want to give you at least that forum to be able to share anything else on your mind.

Matt Krayton (39:47.184)

Yeah, I mean, I think I’m just optimistic, generally speaking. So I will say that over the last four years, we have seen an incredible amount of investment in clean energy. And the results are showing, you’re going to see job creation, you’re going to see the improvements to our environment, public health, breathing in cleaner air, even drinking water infrastructure, cleaner water in a lot of places. So I would say that I’m very optimistic that if we can continue doing that, that we can rise to the occasion and create a future that is livable, but where also future generations can thrive. So again, I am very optimistic given where we are today and seeing all of these investments, which is critical. And in my view, that’s sort of the role that the government does need to play is spurring on these big transitions and building a strong foundation. And I think we’re doing that now for the first time in a very long time. So I would say cautious optimism is where I’m at. And I would hope that other people join me in that too, feeling optimistic about the future, given what’s happened. And it may not feel like it every day, but given the investments, I think we have a real opportunity to continue to do big things.

Wes Ashworth (41:12.7)

I agree. So well said there. And that will kind of wrap up. But Matt, thank you so much for coming on the show. This is such an insightful episode. And I think it’s great to hear your perspective and hearing your insights in it. So I know I got a lot out of this personally. I’m sure everybody listening too, as well. So thank you to the audience out there for listening. If you enjoyed this conversation, please share it with a colleague, share with a friend, share with family. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast, which is available on all major podcast platforms out there and stay tuned. Next episode is coming out very shortly. And with that, we’ll wrap up and we’ll see you next time.