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Capital Partners Agreement

The Challenge:
The Capital Partners Agreement is a 20-year agreement between AU, George Washington University, the George Washington University Hospital, and Duke Energy Renewables to use solar power from North Carolina to meet half of each university’s and about one-third of the hospital’s electricity needs, thereby reducing their carbon footprints. UCM’s objective was to collaborate with communications staffs at peer institutions in the Washington, DC, area to publicize a major, first-of-its-kind solar power deal.

The Solution:
The story was offered as an embargoed exclusive to two national news outlets (Associated Press and Washington Post’s Capital Business), after which two press releases were issued: a joint press release and an AU-specific press release. The AU press release was pitched to targeted reporters covering higher education, business, and energy as well as distributed via PR Web.

More than 150 news articles and TV and radio segments featured the agreement. Stories by the Associated Press and the Washington Post’s Capital Business highlighted AU’s unique and ambitious goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2020. Key outlets covered the news, including Bloomberg Businessweek, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Fox Business, U.S. News & World Report, EcoWatch, Washington Business Journal, and Huffington Post College.

UCM edited the press release to be web-friendly and published it on the AU home page as a news story. Since the story was published on June 24, 2014, it has received 1,705 views, 1,543 of which are unique. The average time on page is 4 minutes and 9 seconds, more than 2 minutes longer than the site-wide time-on-page average for news content.

Months after the agreement was announced, it was recognized as an exemplary renewable energy model at the 2014 Presidential Summit on Climate Leadership in Boston. The conference attracted hundreds of higher education sustainability leaders, including college and university presidents. The presidents of both AU and GWU spoke at the conference about the agreement.