15 October 2009

Welcome to Blog Action Day - Climate Change Edition

This blog post represents my personal opinion in celebration of Blog Action Day. I should say that up front so I don't get fired.

Climate change is real, it's influenced by human activity, and we must act immediately and dramatically to address it. That's the reflection of scientific consensus. Any attempts by people in my profession to suggest otherwise, to distract people from the problem, or to dismiss the concerns of the scientific community as granola-crunchy lunacy are disingenuous at best.

PR flacks like me aren't exactly the most important people in this discussion, but we have an important job, and we haven't always done a good one when it comes to this issue. Too often we see "the environment" as a marketing angle. Too often people in our industry have developed strategies designed to dance around the issue. Or to mislead people into thinking a company is really willing to embrace solutions that will have a negative impact on the bottom line. Or to convince people that their elected representatives are really committed to doing something substantial.

There are many more people talking about climate change, especially today, and that's a good thing, but the interests aligned against real, effective policy are as entrenched as ever. Thanks to this amplified conversation, most of these entrenched interests are realizing they're ultimately going to lose this fight and the strategy is to hold on to as much money as they can, for as long as they can. But if the political winds shift, if there's even a hint of an opportunity to reframe the debate about something else, don't think for a second there won't be a PR flack with a strategy ready to exploit it.

The best way to make political progress is to stay on the rhetorical attack. The attack must ALWAYS be truthful and can NEVER be violent, but it also has to be relentless and unforgiving. Call out the companies and call out their flacks.

The environmental movement has made enormous strides in recent years. Don't let up now.

One place communications pro's can start is getting smart on environmental issues and getting to know people who lead the environmental movement. We have to give clients the best possible advice about what really constitutes "bold leadership" on sustainability issues and what's not - so many companies really don't understand the issue or the priorities of the community.

In my experience a lot of what is called "greenwashing" is actually accidental. But there's no excuse for that anymore. Companies have to be aware of a product's life cycle. You can't say you're "green," but you should commit to being greener every day.

There are a number of places people can go to get background. I obviously recommend my pals at Earth and Industry. Companies can also work with the makers of the Good Guide to see what consumers are looking for.

Climate change affects all of us - but the good news is we can still affect it.

1 comment:

Amy said...

I am not sure if we have any effect on global warming but I think we still need to be energy efficient and help the environment.