Disruptive innovation has been a buzzword for a while now. We’ve seen that creating new markets or reshaping existing ones has the potential to bring about tremendous societal benefits. We’ve also seen that such innovation can cause significant disruptions in customers’ lives and businesses.

Companies that define themselves as disruptors should be ready to walk a fine line on how they communicate and ease people through change. My recent blog post about artificial intelligence speaks to this a bit, but the idea is much bigger.

I was recently invited to attend the 2023 Newsweek Auto Disruptor Awards where I had the privilege of sitting with some of the automotive industry’s greatest changemakers. While I was there, I learned that despite the call for disruption across all sectors, the appetite for disruption is more like baby steps than wholesale change.

Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda said in an acceptance speech for his Executive Disruptor of the Year Award that it would be irresponsible of Toyota to disrupt the industry with electric vehicles too quickly when the infrastructure isn’t there, and likely won’t be for a while, for most drivers. In addition, Torsten Müller-Ötvös of Rolls-Royce, who accepted the Legacy of Disruption Award, noted the company’s “history of disruption” was built by a cautious pace that “takes the best that exists and makes it better.”

For these companies to redefine their industries, they first must understand their customers’ “appetite for disruption.” Having a communications program with messaging that meets those customers where they are is key. We’ve put together a list of famous and lesser-known disruptors that have successfully transitioned customers into change using smart comms strategies that ensured they were not forced into a state of total disruption.

Fisker Inc.

Amplify a Unique Value Proposition

Fisker Inc., an EV company, disrupted the automotive industry by elevating its unique value proposition and reinforcing how it could make owning an EV easier than ever with proof points audiences could align on themselves. Unlike other EVs, Fisker EVs feature longer-range and faster-charging battery technology. The company drives targeted media campaigns highlighting its proprietary battery technology, collaborates with influencers and bloggers to showcase the unique features of its EVs, and uses storytelling that features testimonials from real-life customers who share how their EV transformed their daily commute or made a positive impact on the environment. This approach humanizes the brand and helps potential customers better understand the value of choosing Fisker’s technology.


Use Relatable Language and Storytelling

Enertiv, an energy monitoring solution for commercial buildings, connected with customers by using relatable language and storytelling to communicate the benefits of its solution without overwhelming building managers and tenants with technical details. For example, its messaging weaves in human-interest angles and compelling narratives, leveraging content marketing and social media channels to amplify infographics, videos and other visual content to illustrate complex concepts in a clear and concise way.

Arcadia Power

Build Trust through Education and Awareness

Arcadia Power, a climate technology company that enables a clean energy economy, provides a range of resources, including informative articles, guides and events to help customers understand the benefits of clean energy and how they can make the switch. Additionally, the company collaborates with a variety of organizations to amplify its message and raise awareness about the importance of clean energy, while also using its social media channels to spread the same message through educational content and customer engagement. By using education and awareness as a foundation, Arcadia’s PR program builds trust with its customer base and supports a smooth transition toward clean energy solutions.


Personalize the Customer Experience

Nest is Google’s smart thermostat. The PR strategy for Nest focused on personalized customer experiences by creating an emotional connection and emphasizing the benefits of the technology in a relatable way. For example, the company launched targeted social media campaigns to showcase the benefits of its smart thermostat, including personalized temperature control and energy savings. Nest also collaborated with influencers and bloggers to share personal stories and testimonials about how the product simplified their lives.

CarbonCure Technologies

Highlight Industry-Wide Benefits

CarbonCure Technologies reduces the carbon footprint of the construction industry. The company emphasizes the environmental impact of its solution by collaborating with leading construction firms, architects and industry associations to share thought leadership articles and research studies that showcase the environmental and economic benefits of its technology. CarbonCure also speaks on panels and presents case studies at industry events and conferences, which further increases awareness and understanding of the impact of its solution.

We are living in an exciting time, with companies revolutionizing established industries and changing the world as we know it. However, to be successful, these disruptors must create a smooth transition for their customers to enter the future they envision. By using strategic PR programs that focus on storytelling, education and awareness, disruptors can drive innovation and push boundaries, paving the way to a better tomorrow for all.

Learn more about how RH Strategic is supporting disruptors in ClimateTech.


RH Strategic is a Seattle and D.C.-based communications firm with a nationwide presence and additional global reach via membership in the Worldcom Public Relations Group. We provide strategic public relations for innovators in the technology, government, healthcare, and social and environmental impact markets.