Director of Public Relations for POET
Hard to get used to Woody Paige talking about soccer, but good points: U.S.-Mexico qualifier sets ratings record http://t.co/bx6GZlMFS7
RT @LifterMag: Check out Alister McGrath's book @CSLewis - A Life: Eccentric Genius. Reluctant Prophet. http://t.co/lvB6Qcb1gH @alistere ...
Not surprised: FIFA rejects Costa Rica protest against USA snowstorm win: http://t.co/MT5ofAH1Mm via @FoxSoccer #USMNT #Snowclassico
My review of Alister McGrath's - C.S. Lewis - A Life: Eccentric Genius. Reluctant Prophet. http://t.co/Q5grzrD5xg #LifterMag via @LifterMag
How can I concentrate on work with all of these reminders of tonight's match against Mexico? http://t.co/k4dJUsBkGT via @SINow #USMNT
Before today, I didn't realize how much I needed a levitating wireless mouse for my computer: http://t.co/a2AdJcm1DO #tech #future
RT @argusjellis: My take on Johnson announcement: If it were in SxFalls, he'd be running again. From Vermillion, that's where you announ ...
RT @ArgusMontgomery: Multiple DC papers now citing anonymous Senate sources saying that @SenJohnsonSD will retire tomorrow, as expected.
RT @GrantWahl: No verbal response from US Soccer prez to angry Costa Rica FA VP (it was during press conference). But his look said: "Sc ...
RT @BobLeyESPN: @TaylorTwellman they provided the soundtrack of a match that will be recalled for decades
RT @TaylorTwellman: as a player its hard to ever really appreciate the fans of @USSoccer but what the @AmericanOutlaws provided last nig ...
We didn't have any trouble keeping the beat with the chants since this guy was two rows behind us. The… http://t.co/NT08t721jY
Costa Rica was complaining about the snow? The ball bounces truer on 3 inches of snow than it does on their AstroTurf #USMNT
USA gets the win in snowpocalypse and is now second in the hex. Not sure I can ever remember having… http://t.co/AUhFY0RsoH
RT @jereds: "@SoccerInsider: Light snow likely to begin around kickoff in Denver, continue through night. 29° by final whistle #usmnt" a ...
Thanks a lot, Davidson! I'm sorry I ever picked you. #MarchMadness
Lundquist and Raftery are so old, even they can't stop making jokes about it #NCAATourney
It's been a while since I've posted here. I could give all the excuses (day job, Twitter, Tumblr, ADD, etc.), but it's partly because I've been doing some writing for other outlets. One of those is Sustainable Industries, which just posted my latest contribution yesterday, Words Matter. Here's an excerpt:
And if clean energy is on the national stage, proponents have to make the most of the opportunity if they want to build support for their cause. That means using the most persuasive language possible. The path forward is illuminated by a PEW survey on Americans’ views on the government’s role in developing a clean energy industry. In May, Public Opinion Strategies conducted phone interviews with 800 registered voters and an online panel with 500 more for the Pew Environment Group.Read the full column here. If several months is too long for you between posts, you can follow me on Twitter for shorter, more frequent thoughts.
I love this new messaging from the Rocky Mountain Institute: Reinventing Fire. Watch this video and check out their web site. What do you think?
I was watching TV the other night (something I don't do very often) and a commercial for the Nissan Leaf came on the screen. It reminded me that I haven't blogged here in a (long) while and this was something I had been meaning to talk about.
Called Gas Powered Everything, the spot is the brainchild of TBWA and imagines that everything electric was instead powered by gasoline. The implication is that all of these things, from hairdryers to computers, are better running on electricity so why not vehicles?
What I like best about the spot is that it successfully appeals to both its primary target of the environmentally-conscious and the general public. It does so both through humor and by showing the benefits of using electricity to power items everyone uses every day (although ignoring that much of that electricity comes from coal). Here's the 60-second spot:
There was another car in the ad and the manufacturer has since responded. What do you think of the spot?
How can environmentally-conscious people in the Northern plains continue to advance sustainability? Join me at the Plain Green Conference in Sioux Falls, S.D. to find out.
I'm speaking again this year, but on a different topic. Last year, I talked about green marketing, which you can read about on this blog. This year, I'll be on a renewable energy panel sponsored by my company, POET.
Conference organizers have put together a great lineup for Plain Green '11. I'm especially looking forward to the keynote address from Alex Steffen. If you need any more motivation to attend, check out this video from a few of my friends:
How many of the 600-625 advertisements Americans see on the average day have a green message? Unsurprisingly, it depends on the amount of news coverage devoted to green issues and public concern about the environment.
A recent study of "green" ads in four major print publications from Michael Svoboda at the Yale Forum found that they peaked in 2008-09 and returned to background levels in 2010. That rise and fall mirrored major media coverage of climate change and public concern about global warming.
The study also found that most companies preferred uncontroversial advertising messages about their "efficient use of natural resources and their careful disposal of wastes" rather than explicit mentions of "greenhouse gases" or "climate change." Most of the advertisements of climate change appeared to come from oil, nuclear and car companies.
So, which comes first? The news "chicken" or the advertising "egg." the study makes the case that advertising increased along with news coverage of events like the Copenhagen Climate Summit and the resultant public interest. But it also notes the public opinion shaping role of advertising and a recent uptick in green ads.
What do you think? Can "green" advertising from major companies help drive public concern about the environment? Or are they simply following public concern about the environment and "greenwashing" their image?
The latest report from ecoAmerica is titled "
up start with people." The report states that the environmental community has not been successful at wining the hearts and minds because they have focused mostly on government regulation and intervention. The non-profit sees more success being had by those in the movement who are focused on social solutions that are built around people.
ecoAmerica wants to encourage this shift by bringing together NGOs and others for large-scale public engagement programs targeting mainstream Americans with unquestionable benefits. So far, that has been carried out through higher education initiatives like the President's Climate Commitment and green college ratings with the Princeton Review, public outreach like Nature Rocks, along with several others listed in the report and soon will include the Center for Social Solutions on Climate.
Seems like a no-brainer. If you want PEOPLE to care about the environment, you should probably also focus on people, right?
Well, it might take a little more convincing to get the environmental community on board. The Spring issue of Nature Magazine had a cover story about Nature Conservancy chief scientist Peter Kareiva suggested that it was time to move past the man vs. nature debate and get people to understand that nature benefits them.
When I read the article a few months ago, I thought it was a very pragmatic approach and one that could obviously have a broader appeal than trying to protect nature from man. I also wondered what the response would be from the readers.
Well, you would have thought they published an OpEd in the Catholic News suggesting the Pope convert to Protestantism. Although there were some letters in favor, they overwhelmingly castigated Kareiva, saying "people are the problem," comparing the Nature Conservancy to Exxon and, of course, threatening to take their funds and go play somewhere else. The Nature Conservancy set up a special place on their web site to continue the debate and the comments there are even more lopsided against Kareiva. My personal favorite was this gem: Ok, let me first say that I will NOT be supporting Nature Conservancy with donations until Peter Kareiva is fired.
No, please. Tell me how you really feel.
If the environmental community wants to broaden their appeal and convince more people to join their movement, they would be wise to follow the lead of ecoAmerica and Kareiva. Instead, it appears that they're going to act like the activist wing of a major political party that wants to crucify their candidate for moving toward the center in a presidential general election.
If you want to govern, you first have to win. For the environmental community, if they want to be successful, they'll first have to win the public debate. They'll have an easier time winning that debate protecting something for people rather than from them.
Tomorrow, I will chat with people who are looking for organizations that are doing the most innovative communications work on energy, the environment and climate change. They are particularly looking for the groups who have been successful in changing the conversation in ways that get people to take action on these important issues.
I thought I'd put the question out here and ask people to respond. What communicators or organizations are doing a good job in this area? Can you point me to some good examples? The Climate and Energy Project I blogged about comes to mind. Can you think of any others? Leave suggestions in the comments below.
If you spend any time following social media in the cleantech world, you’ve almost certainly come across Tor Valenza. That name doesn’t sound familiar? Well, how about his more well-known pseudonym Solar Fred?
It would be hard to not have seen one of his 10,000+ tweets or come across his very popular blog at Renewable Energy World. He has hung out his shingle at UnThink Solar.
But who is Solar Fred and what does he do? Considering his use of social media to promote solar power, I thought he’d make an interesting interview for this blog. Here’s our Q&A over email from last week:
Q. How did you first get involved in solar?
A. The short answer is that I was fascinated by solar as a teenager living in New York. I thought it was really cool to light up the city with power from the sun and had my sights on being a solar engineer. Then I took calculus... But solar always stuck with me, and eventually I realized I didn't have to invent solar, but I could use my natural communication talents to help educate people about it. So I took a few courses, started a solar blog, and it's been solar full steam ahead ever since.Q. Why the name "Solar Fred?"
A. Another long story behind this, but in the end, it was a branding and marketing decision. When I started my original blog, "Solar Tor" didn't sound right and I wanted a common and somewhat ironic name that people could relate to. Fred was chosen out of an inside joke, too long to go into here.Q. What is UnThink Solar? What do you do for solar companies?
A. UnThink Solar is very simply a boutique solar marketing and communications company. I develop solar social media strategies, as well as execute some small projects. For larger projects, I partner with other companies who help execute. The more interactive, the better Solar Fred likes it. Strike that. The more bold and interactive, the better I like it.Q. Is social media a good way to promote solar?
A. Not only is social media a good way to promote solar, I really feel it is the most effective way. From blogging to Twitter, to viral videos and other web-related campaigns, social media works because it relies on inspiring people to get so excited about solar that they want to share that information with their friends. People trust friends and peers, not advertisements. That's why social media is an art. It's marketing, but can't be in-your-face. You have to build trust via providing useful information, simply communicated. That formula is ideal for solar, because buyers need a lot of trust to make that big purchase decision.Q. What could solar companies do to market themselves better? What does solar need to do to gain greater public adoption?
A. I write a lot about this on my REWorld.com blog. The main theme I try to get across is not only using social media, but also "Stand out and educate." Also, "Be bold for solar." The first means that solar companies need to be more creative with their marketing, but they also must be sure to have substance behind their words. You can't only pull a stunt. My second slogan (both of these are in my email signature) is encouraging solar companies to be unabashedly courageous with their marketing. Solar has a lot of obstacles, from green washing to climate change deniers and general apathy. Plus, there's a lot of government policy that has to be changed. If marketers are all "bold for solar," then I think the U.S. will adopt solar faster. Very few companies have this courage, but I'm trying to inspire more.Q. Who in the solar industry (besides yourself) does a good job marketing?
A. I don't know the entire industry. It's fairly large and broad. The few that I love are on my radar because I've worked with them in some capacity, so it would probably be too self serving to mention them. That being said, I write about good solar marketers on past REWorld blogposts, so go through those and you'll find plenty of Solar Fred shout-outs. Companies are often "on my list --in a good way." There also those who are my list in a bad way. I try not call them out unless they do something really, really bad for the industry. I'm not going to name them again here.Q. What social media and web sites do you focus the most on and why (i.e. Twitter, REWorld, etc.)?
A. I go where my solar customers are, and that could really be on any platform. Unfortunately, I only have 10 fingers, two hands, and 24 hours. So, the lesson there is that you simply have to choose your social media community (i.e. REWorld, Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook etc.) learn their rules, and start building relationships on those platforms. If you communicate and build relationships well, you'll be successful. Honest.Q. What excites you and/or concerns you about the future of solar?
A. What excites and concerns me are one in the same: We have so much potential for solar in the U.S. and the world. That's both exciting...and a concern. I'm impatient. I want people to get how affordable solar is now with creative financing like solar leases and solar ppas. I want people to get how clean it is, and how safe it is. So, I get excited when people get it and are inspired to get a quote. And I get concerned when the rest of the world doesn't do the same next Tuesday. I want everyone to be a "Solar Fred head" like me, but the reality is that different messages and concerns speak to different people. Therefore, I and other solar marketers simply must be creative, be consistent, and keep putting ourselves out there.Now you know who Solar Fred is. If you want a little more, you can read his full bio here. Who else should I interview for this blog? Leave suggestions in the comments below.
The webinar is March 23 at 11:00 a.m. central time. There is a $30 administrative fee to participate, but ACORE is a good cause and hopefully it will be worth the money. If you attend, please let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.
Glowing coverage of corporate greening initiatives is coming to an end, pens Kate Galbraith in the International Herald Tribune. Galbraith, Energy and environment reporter for the Texas Tribune, writes:
Journalists are a little less wide-eyed, and a little more picky. The cutting-edge coverage today does not typically revolve around the greening of fill-in-the-blank company. Instead, topics like “Who’s not going green?” and “What are the difficulties of going green?” are being seen more frequently...Going green, in other words, became so mainstream that it was no longer big news.Galbraith calls it a "natural evolution" in reporting and my experience in the ethanol industry leads me to concur. As I've said before, journalists' second favorite story goes something like this: "There's this new thing you've never heard of, but it's going to make you healthy, wealthy and wise while saving the economy, the environment and the world." That's often closely followed by their favorite story: "Remember that new thing I told you about? It's actually robbing you blind, making you stupid and ultimately killing you while destroying the economy, the environment and indeed, the world."
Perhaps that's a bit of an exaggeration (which I occasionally am guilty of), but the broader principle fits sustainability news. If you look at where Galbraith sees coverage of green issues heading, it's along the lines of the latter storyline in the preceding paragraph. Journalists are increasingly looking at who is not going green or what the challenges are for companies or industries that want to go green. They're also looking at the "challenges facing renewable energy" rather than carbon offsets or commitments to renewable power.
Are there still opportunities for stories that cast corporate sustainability initiatives in a positive light? Yes. Galbraith sees those stories as "man-bites-dog" (e.g. renewable energy in Texas) or large scale (Walmart). Read the entire article and then follow Galbraith, an excellent and seasoned green journalist, on Twitter to keep learning. To find more reporters like her, join the 222 other followers of my green journalists list on Twitter.
How about your experiences? Are you finding reporters lest receptive to corporate sustainability news? Let me know in the comments below.
This is a guest post from Beth Buczynski
We are a society caught between two eras: a past dependent on fossil fuels and a future that will rely on renewable forms of energy. Every day new information floods the media about the latest technologies and how they can reduce our dependency on petroleum, coal, and other "dirty" fuels. At the same time, there are critics who claim we're not ready for a switch to renewable energy, and that doing so would be disastrous for our way of life.
As you know, it can often be difficult to sort out fact from fiction when it comes to environmental gossip. That's why WellHome created this striking infographic designed to address some of the common inaccuracies floating around out there and inform readers of the truth:
Beth Buczynski is the founder of EcoSpheric Blog. Beth works with WellHome Energy Audits to educate the public about energy technology, conservation, and policy through creative content. If you're interested in energy-related infographics for your website, please contact bethbot52[at]gmail.com.
Unless you live in the Washington D.C. area, California, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey or Texas, you can't buy a Volt, but that didn't stop Chevy from dropping $3 million bucks (the cost of 75 Volts) on a Superbowl ad. Here it is:
I thought the "making history" theme was a little weak. It's like putting the words "unique" or "cutting-edge" in a press release. Because it could be claimed by anyone, it doesn't really mean anything. What did you think?
Environmental PR & Public Affairs is the focus of the February, 2011 issue of O'Dwyer's Magazine. The magazine includes:
- Aric Caplan of Caplan Communications on clean energy politics
- Kevin McCauley on the PR battle that ensued after EPA revoked a mountaintop removal coal mine permit
- Park&Co President Park Howell explaining why "Green" is not a brand differentiator
- Rachel Belew of the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute on greenwashing
- Author Jacquelyn Ottman with seven rules of good green marketing
- Your humble blogger (page 18) on the attempts of clean energy companies to build public support and decrease reliance on government
- O'Dwyer's editor Jon Gingerich on the Republican attempt to role back environmental laws
In his State of the Union Address tonight, President Barrack Obama made a powerful case for investing in clean energy technology. The way he would pay for it is by eliminating taxpayer giveaways for Big Oil. Here's the text:
This is our generation's Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven't seen since the height of the Space Race. In a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal. We'll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.
Already, we are seeing the promise of renewable energy. Robert and Gary Allen are brothers who run a small Michigan roofing company. After September 11th, they volunteered their best roofers to help repair the Pentagon. But half of their factory went unused, and the recession hit them hard.
Today, with the help of a government loan, that empty space is being used to manufacture solar shingles that are being sold all across the country. In Robert's words, "We reinvented ourselves."
That's what Americans have done for over two hundred years: reinvented ourselves. And to spur on more success stories like the Allen Brothers, we've begun to reinvent our energy policy. We're not just handing out money. We're issuing a challenge. We're telling America's scientists and engineers that if they assemble teams of the best minds in their fields, and focus on the hardest problems in clean energy, we'll fund the Apollo Projects of our time.
At the California Institute of Technology, they're developing a way to turn sunlight and water into fuel for our cars. At Oak Ridge National Laboratory, they're using supercomputers to get a lot more power out of our nuclear facilities. With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.
We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I'm asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don't know if you've noticed, but they're doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy, let's invest in tomorrow's.
Now, clean energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they're selling. So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: by 2035, 80% of America's electricity will come from clean energy sources. Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen.What do you think? Can it happen?
Two new eco-labels came to my attention this week and have me thinking. Could they help drive consumer demand for renewables? (an issue I recently blogged about).
The first is WindMade, the new trustmark launched by Vestas. The concept is fairly straightforward: products that are produced using at least 25 percent wind energy and 25 percent from some other renewable energy source would qualify for the trustmark. The details were laid out in an excellent article for the February issue of Fast Company Magazine.
The second is BioPreferred, a new label from the United States Department of Agriculture that aims to increase the purchase and use of renewable biobased products. As with Windmade the 50 percent threshold comes into play; to qualify as BioPreferred, a product must be at least 51 percent biobased. The label launch was assisted by the green communications pioneers at J. Ottman Consulting as outlined in a blog post.
What do you think? Will companies desire these eco-labels enough to pay extra for renewable energy and bio-based products? Will consumers push companies to use more renewable energy and material in their products?
There is certainly no shortage of eco-labels and far more have failed than succeeded. A recent one from CBS has shown some of the pitfalls that can ensnare the efforts. In some way or another, nearly all of them want to emulate the success of ENERGY STAR.
I'm wondering why WindMade chose to focus only on wind and not broader renewable energy? It seems like that could have broadened the adoption and helped them reach their goal of 1,000 companies signed up by next year. And don't get me started on the blue swirl logo. But, the key difference between WindMade and ENERGY STAR is that the latter typically saves the consumer money while the former will typically accompany something that costs the consumer more. When I shell out an extra $35 for an ENERGY STAR dishwasher (which I recently did), I can do so knowing that I will make my money back in less than two years on the energy savings. WindMade applies to the way that the product was produced, not what it will do once it's in my hands.
Depending on the product, BioPreferred could offer more tangible benefits as consumers are more frequently looking for products with ingredients that are bio-based rather than petroleum-based. However, the new label is not without its critics, who say that 51 percent bio-based doesn't go far enough.
Your thoughts would be appreciated. This the subject of a column I'm writing for O'Dwyer's this weekend so comment soon!
...that doesn't even care if you believe in climate change.
I love the idea of this movie, but if it's truly about benefiting from going green regardless of climate change believe, Carbon Nation seems like a strange name choice. And the trailer showcases a lot of the same old people from the climate change movement:
Hopefully it is able to convince people to take actions that avert climate change even if they don't believe in it. We'll find out soon, as Carbon Nation opens in theaters January 14.
Last week, I attended the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) Phase II of Renewable Energy in America National Policy Forum. Press release recap from ACORE here. Recap of my CEO's panel here.
My good friend Kimberly Kupiecki recapped the event nicely and concluded that It's time for a new dialogue around clean energy.
That's precisely what Kimberly and I discussed with several others the previous day during a meeting of the ACORE Communications Committee (ReComm). Communicators from across the renewable energy spectrum gathered to discuss coordinated messaging to the broader public on renewable energy.
The highlight of the meeting was a presentation from Professor Edward Maibach, MPH, PhD and Director, Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University on “What the audience research tells us about how to build consumer demand for renewables." Professor Maibach was joined by Doctoral Student Justin Rolfe-Redding. Here's the complete presentation:
Next, Rolfe-Redding summarized the (admittedly thin) existing public opinion research on renewable energy. He drew heavily from a 2010 study by Klick and Smith entitled Public Understanding of and Support for Wind Power.
According to the Rolfe-Redding, there is broad, bipartisan support for renewable energy but it's not based on deep knowledge. People like renewable energy in general, but have a vague sense of what it actually is. Because of that, the public support for renewable energy is fairly weak.
They had an even greater lack of knowledge of the downsides of renewable energy, which made it fairly easy to erode their support. With wind power for instance, Klick and Smith found that most people were unaware of the intermittent nature of wind power or the higher cost. When people were read arguments for and against wind power, support declined. Rolfe-Redding suggested that the renewable energy industry should be more upfront about the downsides of their energy source and present counter arguments of support. "You need to provide the public with the basics of renewable energy because they're clearly not getting it," he said. "You also need to engage the opposition. Explain their arguments and why they are wrong."
Then he got into the public's willingness to pay more for renewable energy. While a very small majority will pay more for green energy, the vast majority admit that they won't. Why is this, when they say they support renewable energy? A likely reason is the free-rider problem and that the public want a system where everyone pays more. He recommended continuing to push for a renewable energy standard.
Finally, Maibach got into his work understanding public opinion on global warming with Global Warming's Six Americas. While he said that renewable energy and climate change are different issues (with the former clearly enjoying more public support), understanding one will help understand the other. At the most basic level, he told the committee that they needed to know the different information needs of different audiences. People can dismiss global warming and still support renewable energy for energy independence, national security and health issues, he said.
The Center for Climate Change Communication is planning more research in the near future on health because it's the one reason for support that cuts across all opinion groups on climate change. He also said that he didn't think "renewable" was a very good word for renewable energy. "Clean" is much better because it has more emotional than cognizant resonance (which is why coal is trying to associate with it).
The presentation from GMU definitely sent the ReCommwheels spinning. I'll keep you posted as we discuss this topic further in the future.
Today, the seminars kick off with Building the Credible Sustainable Brand by Jennifer Rice, founder of Fruitful Strategy. Tomorrow is John Marshall Roberts, CEO of Worldview Learning, on Designing Communications that Resonate. Days 3-5 are on sustainable product design, making supply chains more sustainable and management systems and metrics.
I’ll be sharing my thoughts on Twitter in real time and posting a blog recap from each day on Triple Pundit. Let me know if you have any questions for the speakers or if you plan to attend. It’s always fun to connect with blog readers.
It's no secret that there has been a decline in the number of reporters in the mainstream media who cover energy and the environment. Thanks to a newsroom leak, we get a rare glimpse at just how bad it is.
The independent Gannett Blog obtained a list of the newsroom journalists from the USA TODAY and posted it. They made the point that there were 5 reporters covering Congress and 27 on entertainment. The number of reporters devoted to the Science/Energy/Environment beat was exactly the same (as Congress, not entertainment).
I've talked to some of those five reporters before and they do excellent work. But the relative number of reporters shows what topics are important to the second largest newspaper in America.
But, as I pointed out in nominating Marc Gunther for recognition as a sustainability leader, we don't necessarily have to fear that decline in mainstream media coverage. Here's are the opening sentences of that nomination in Directions 10:
In an era where declining revenues for mainstream media has led to cutbacks in the number of reporters who cover the environment, Marc Gunther has shown that the internet provides the only forum a good journalist needs to succeed today.There are others like Gunther out there doing excellent reporting on energy and the environment and the Internet is their printing press. They are the future of reporting on sustainability.
From the Pickens Plan to the American Gas Association, the natural gas industry has invested a lot of money to promote "clean natural gas." But if you're going to advertise something as clean and green (without qualification), you need to make sure it's clean and green all the way through.
One method of extracting natural gas that has led some to dispute natural gas' clean image is hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking,' which has been said to have significant environmental and human health concerns. The issue was front and center this week on the latest episode of CSI. Here's a preview of the November 11, 2010 CSI episode, 'Fracked':
The synopsis of the episode says: "Two men are murdered right before exposing a natural gas company for poisoning residents in a farming town, and the CSIs must discover who is responsible for their deaths." Watch the full episode here. According to Nielsen, 12-13 million viewers spent an hour hearing that message. It will take a lot of advertising dollars to make up for that, but that's the cost when your actions don't match your ads.
I’ve long been a fan of Sustainable Life Media and I’ve wanted to attend their Sustainable Brands Conference, but it’s never worked out. So I was pleased to see that their Sustainable Brands Seminar Series included a stop in St. Paul, Minn. which is just a four hour drive for me.
Day two is on Communications, with John Marshall Roberts, CEO of Worldview Learning talking about Designing Communications that Resonate. Check out Roberts’ blog, follow him on Twitter and watch his talk at Sustainable Brands here:
Disclosure: SLM offered me a free pass to one of the days to help them promote the St. Paul seminar in this area of the country. If you want to join me, register here and let me know you’ll be there so we can hang out.
Every week I Tweet and share dozens of links to content on green advertising, media, communications and public relations. If you want those links in real time, just follow me on Twitter and/or subscribe to my shared items on Google Reader.
The big news from this week was the launch of the two Chevron ad campaigns: the one from Chevron and the one from The Yes Men. Here are the links from the past week:
I had been toying with the idea of this blog post for a long time. For the life of me, I can’t understand why environmentalists are spending so much energy trying to convince people that climate change is happening when it’s far easier to get them to make climate-friendly choices through other means.
But most of what I would have said was already being done by the Climate and Energy Project (CEP) as told in this New York Times article: In Kansas, Climate Skeptics Embrace Cleaner Energy. The article by Leslie Kaufman is part of the Times’ series Beyond Fossil Fuels.
A year-long competition sponsored by CEP convinced Kansans to cut energy use by focusing on thrift, patriotism, spiritual conviction and economic prosperity rather than regulating greenhouse gases.
It’s a fascinating article. As CEP said in response on their blog:
And as the nation’s leaders continue to struggle to find modes and models for energy reform… Hellooooooo………
This is a topic I’d like to spend a lot more time on. What do you think? Can we make more progress on the environment by not talking about climate change?
The kerfuffle over Chevron’s ad campaign and the accompanying spoof ad campaign (see my Inspired Economist post) reminded me that I hadn’t posted anything here about my first contribution to the Public Relations The Strategist. Titled Handling a Fake Twitter Account: @BPGlobalPR Leaves Lasting Impression on Crisis Communications, the article talks about the fake Twitter account that parodied BP’s communications response to the Gulf Oil Spill.
The Strategist article draws on the expertise of Shel Holtz and Kevin Dugan to talk about how BP could have better handled the crisis in the gulf and the rise of @BPGlobalPR on Twitter. With another oil company responding to another spoof communications plan from environmental activists, I thought it might be worth the read.
I was an early one of the 186,000+ followers of @BPGlobalPR on Twitter. How could I not be? In the midst of tragedy in the Gulf, with Jon Stewart enjoying an unfortunately timed vacation, it provided some much-needed comic relief.
But as I followed and chuckled, I was also thinking about what it signified for public relations as it is practiced today. An anonymous person sets up a Twitter account about one of the largest companies in the world that is in the midst of one of the largest crises of reputations in this century. Through biting satire, that anonymous (and free) account quickly amasses ten times the followers of that company (@BP_America), while generating tons of conversation online and off. What lessons should corporate communicators draw from this and this week’s Chevron episode?
Well, in case you are a corporate communicator struggling to understand the significance, the author of @BPGlobalPR spells it out for you in a press release announcing his name, Leroy Stick. Says Leroy:
I started @BPGlobalPR because the oil spill had been going on for almost a month and all BP had to offer were bullshit PR statements. No solutions, no urgency, no sincerity, no nothing. That's why I decided to relate to the public for them...Why has this caught on? I think it's because people can smell bullshit and sometimes laughing at it feels better than getting angry or depressed over it...The reason @BPGlobalPR continues to grow is because BP continues to spew their bullshit.
Then, Leroy tries to save PR from itself, especially those wondering what BP should do to save their brand from @BPGlobalPR. He writes:
Do you want to know what BP should do about me? Do you want to know what their PR strategy should be? They should fire everyone in their joke of a PR department, starting with all-star Anne Womack-Kolto and focus on actually fixing the problems at hand.
Then, Leroy moves from the specific (BP) to the general (all business):
So what is the point of all this? The point is, FORGET YOUR BRAND. You don't own it because it is literally nothing. You can spend all sorts of time and money trying to manufacture public opinion, but ultimately, that's up to the public, now isn't it?
You know the best way to get the public to respect your brand? Have a respectable brand. Offer a great, innovative product and make responsible, ethical business decisions. Lead the pack! Evolve!
“When it comes to oil spills, climate change and human rights abuses, we need real action from Chevron,” said the e-mail. “Instead, the oil giant has prioritized a high-priced glossy advertising campaign that attempts to trick the American people into believing it is different than BP.”
While a little non-traditional in their approach (to say the least), this is actually sound advice. In our hyper-connected world, good communications can't overcome bad products or practices. A company can't afford a sliver of daylight between its actions and its communications because the truth is too easy to find. As the masthead of Adam Curry's blog says: "There are no secrets, only information we don't yet have." The only acceptable response is transparency.
Transparency and honesty are even more important for companies claiming to be green (anyone remember Beyond Petroleum?) In the Gort Cloud, author Richard Seireeni summarizes the book with a list of ten key observations for successfully building a green brand. Number one in the list is: Honesty isn't only the best policy...it's the only policy. In making this point, Seireeni repeatedly cites the importance of honesty and transparency in corporate communications.
Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope said that Clorox's decision to list all of the ingredients on the label of Green Works was a key factor behind their endorsement of the brand. "Sunshine is the best disinfectant," Pope said.
Are you on Twitter? Connect with me @nathanschock.
Every week I Tweet and share dozens of links to content on green advertising, media, communications and public relations. If you want those links in real time, just follow me on Twitter and/or subscribe to my shared items on Google Reader.
As you can see from the links this week, the two big stories were the release of the FTC guidelines on green marketing and the climate change ad from 10:10 featuring the exploding grade-school kids. Here they are: