Readers, Target Green is being put on hiatus for time being. But do keep on sending tips and story ideas, as I’ll still be writing about green PR on our general blog, The Cycle. Thanks to everyone for following this blog and let’s keep engaging over at The Cycle.
While many PR agencies were beefing up their clean tech practices this year, 2009 might be a different story. NPR reports, “capital-intensive green-energy projects are scrambling to adapt to a harsh new reality of tight credit, cash-poor investors and falling oil prices.” The Economist also predicts some gloomy prospects for clean tech. Even so, NPR also reports a boom for some renewable energy jobs.
Exxon faces some branding in the upcoming Obama presidency
New book cites the best clean tech prospects
Daniel Kessler, media officer at Greenpeace, recently answered some questions about Greenpeace’s media strategy via e-mail.
Target Green: As green issues become more mainstream, has Greenpeace seen an influx in media interest? How have you handled this?
Daniel Kessler: There is no doubt that green is in, which has increased interest in Greenpeace’s campaigns. The challenge now is to maintain the public’s interest in environmental issues, which is necessary to create real sustainable change. Without broad public support, it’s almost impossible to get decision-makers to do the right thing.
Target Green: What are the communications opportunities and challenges for Greenpeace now that more Americans are interested in climate change and other environmental issues?
Kessler: The challenge is to differentiate Greenpeace from other environmental groups. We stand out from others by emphasizing our principled positions on the most important issues facing the world and by being action-orientated. The opportunities during this period of heightened awareness include growing our organization and the movement.
Target Green: Do you think the eco-movement has a bad reputation in America? Is this something that Greenpeace addresses?
Kessler: No, our membership is up and the interest from the news media is also on the rise. People are learning that it’s environmental groups that are looking out for them and the planet- not the politicians or the corporations, broadly speaking.
Target Green: What are your thoughts about the way the media is handling green issues, especially in light of this being an election year?
Kessler: The media has done a poor job of covering environmental issues, which is partly why we’ve reached this precarious place so quickly. A good example is the coverage of global warming during the recent political conventions. A cursory examination shows that reporters are not asking the politicians what their plan is for the biggest environmental problem we’ve ever faced. The media must ask the hard questions, and if they don’t they’ve failed in the jobs. Such negligence is inexcusable.
Target Green: What is the primary message you try to convey about Greenpeace and its initiatives when working with the media?
Kessler: Greenpeace tries to show that we are a principled campaigning organization dedicated to achieving results. We work around the world and in your community to make sure that politicians and corporations are taking the right steps to make a a cleaner, greener world.
Green News for the week 08.27.08
Some groups claim that BayerCropScience knew one of its best-selling pesticides has killed millions of honeybees, reports the News & Observer. “A German prosecutor is investigating Werner Wenning, Bayer’s chairman, and Friedrich Berschauer, the head of Bayer CropScience, after critics alleged that they knowingly polluted the environment,” according to the N&O.
German beekeepers and consumer protection advocates filed the compliant that accuses Bayer of using Clothianidin even while knowing it may have hurt millions of honeybees. So far, Bayer CropScience has blamed the deaths on defective seed corn batches.
The Inspired Economist’s Chris Milton posts Sustainable Business’ top 20 sustainable businesses (which includes IBM and Chipotle Mexican Grill). Then he asks readers, “Are lists of companies like this helpful in promoting sustainable business practices, or do they simply show which companies have the slickest PR departments?” Also Sarah Lozanova investigates Bank of American’s green claims.
TreeHugger profiles Patagonia’s green business philosophy
College students have the same, or possibly less, access to sustainability-related education than they did in 2001, reports Time.
Denver radio hosts help convey the DNC’s green message.
Green News for the week 7.21.08
Trouble for the “fresh scent” industry. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports on a University of Washington study claiming that scented fabric sheets, plug-in fresheners, and other scented detergents expose consumers and the environment to dangerous chemicals not always listed in the ingredients. Yet industry reps dispute the study as “misleading.”
The Dark Knight is called out for anti-green shooting methods, according to Plenty
British global warming film rebukes notion that climate change is dangerous, the NY Times
League of Conservation Voters presidential candidate Barack Obama
‘Emeril Green’ launches, retailers to be named in meat recalls, former Intel CEO endorses alternative energy, and Freeman joins the Sierra Club
News for the week 07.14.08
Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse’s new organic cooking show, Emeril Green, premieres this week on Discovery Communications’ Planet Green channel. The show will be set in Whole Foods stores across the nation, scoring major PR points for the wildly popular health food chain. But at least one blogger says the show’s green advice is ho-hum. For PRWeek’s previous coverage on Planet Green click here.
PR crises could loom for the meat industry as the USDA sets to retailers in meat recalls, reports the LA Times.
Morgan Freeman is the latest celebrity to become a face for the Sierra Club.
GCI (which announced last week that it had merged with Cohn & Wolfe) recently released its first global study of IT decision-makers and found that some regions and companies still need to be convinced to carry a green message. Paul Walker, the agency’s EVP of digital media, talked to Target Green about the survey and the agency’s proposed next steps.
Target Green: What prompted you to do this study?
Paul Walker: We felt like there was a lot of money being spent in green by enterprise IT brands. But a lot of them were asking questions about how strategic to be and whether they were going to get a return, and whether it was sustainable.
TG: What were you ultimately trying to learn from the survey?
Walker: The question was, is there a profit potential for green products in the IT space? We wanted to get a global perspective on that because our hypothesis was that this was not a one-size fits all question or market. The way that someone looks at the environment in North America is wildly different to how they might look it in China, India, or Italy.
So, we knew there were some global considerations that really weren’t being taken into account because of lack of research. We wanted to be able to create a roadmap to being successful by understanding the executives that are more open to green products and what media channels are best to reach them. And we found executives that are more open to the green message and more willing to adopt green products do depend on different channels to get their information.
TG: Your findings were not a one size fits all, but was there a consistent thread of information for those in green IT?
Walker: First, there is a great opportunity here. Clearly, companies in different markets around the world are willing to pay a premium for green products. If you get really smart about how you go after those markets there is a chance for a company to increase its profits from its green offerings.
But the PR function has to work very closely with the chief marketing officer and the entire marketing department to exploit it. This is partially because of point number two - “one size fits all” doesn’t work. We see a lot of technology brands try to do dry, global, green programs that are really North American-centric. But the payoff will only come if the companies get really smart about how they implement these as global campaigns. For example, India is hot. India is open to green products and they are willing to pay a significant premium for those.
TG: The survey finds that nearly 25% of Germans believe buying “green” products has no real impact on the environment, generally twice that of any other country. Because Germany is often considered a green-friendly market, did these results surprise you?
Walker: Well, in Germany is where the green bar is set. They’ve legislated so many green standards and companies have to meet so many requirements that those in German market have just come to expect that if you’re going to do business in Germany you’re going to [have to meet stringent requirements]. But Germans don’t feel like they should have to pay for it because it’s a way of life. I think Germany might foreshadow the way this practice goes over time. Eventually brands and companies in various countries are going to come to expect that you’re living up to certain green standards.
Home Depot promotes CFL recycling program
Home Depot recently kicked off a national program, where consumers can recycle compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) in store, a first for any major retailer. Sans agency support, the program was launched with an exclusive in the , and has been primarily promoted through outreach to local markets through print and broadcast media, in addition to its Web site, in-store signage and announcements, according to Ron Jarvis, Home Depot SVP of corporate communications. Environmental groups have also been reached through blogs, such as treehugger.com and greendaily.com.
Wired’s latest cover is an alarming and ironic call for environmentalists to: “Keep Your SUV. Forget organics. Go nuclear. Screw the spotted owl.” The cover story argues that carbon emissions is the most important green issue, and especially courts controversy in its laundry list of 10 “inconvenient truths” about the environment. Among them: “accept genetic engineering,” “farm the forests,” “used cars are better than hybrids,” and “organics are not the answer”. The issue also includes a counterpoint to the inevitably contentious piece.
Green West, a convention to showcase eco-friendly businesses, opened this week. Among the most popular items were zero-flush urinals, soybean-based cleaning products, and bamboo fiber bathrobes, the LA Times.
Automaker Lexus and celebrity environmentalist Paul McCartney faced criticism after the company flew a new hybrid Lexus to the singer from Japan to England — essentially canceling out the the car’s environmental value, reports NPR.
Fiji’s green campaign targeted
The Food & Water Watch blog has launched a new section called Washed Out to “expose corporate greenwashing in order to help consumers make informed decisions about which products and practices are environmentally sustainable and which are merely tricks to boost profits.” PR pros beware — this is yet another blog - among many - monitoring greenwashing missteps.
The most recent company targeted is Fiji Natural Artesian Water. The blog accuses Fiji’s “spin-doctors” of “already profit[ing] on taking a natural resource from an island that often suffers from drought and shipping it around the globe, is now capitalizing on the current public fervor for environmentally friendly products by labeling its water as “green.”
For PRWeek’s coverage on Fiji’s Green campaign click here.
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