Be a Part of The Solution

I’ve seen those commercials on TV that say, “We can solve the climate crisis.” I followed their advice and visited Wecansolveit.org.  They ask you to join the We Campaign by urging that, “Climate change is real and it’s happening right now. We don’t have a lot of time. The good news is that the solutions exist. What’s missing is leadership. We need our leaders to make climate change a priority. But none of that can happen if they don’t know you care…Together we can solve the climate crisis. ” 

Through the Web site’s take action link, visitors will find several simple ways to make a difference. Anyone can advocate for change by signing petitions for polar bears or a global treaty on climate change. You can spread the word by sharing videos and downloads, as well as get involved in local events and learn how to minimize your own impact.

The Web site is overflowing with action alerts, news, and solutions, but my favorite part of the Web site is the success stories.  Wind energy is replacing a history of oil usage in one Texas town, Colorado voters passed renewable energy standards, and volunteers helped bring solar power to low-income residents. There are a bunch of other stories like this that can inspire us all to become a part of the solution. They make it sound so easy. I think these success stories are a great tactic in the We Campaign’s strategy and other environmental campaigns should definitely follow suit. It’s hard to get people to act when they can’t see any beneficial results, but show them a few great successes and they won’t be able to resist. 

 

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Setting the Bar

 

is setting the bar very high as an environmental advocate and sustainable business. Here is their credo: “Our definition of quality includes a mandate for building products and working with processes that cause the least harm to the environment. We evaluate raw materials, invest in innovative technologies, rigorously police our waste and use a portion of our sales to support groups working to make a real difference. We acknowledge that the wild world we love best is disappearing. That is why those of us who work here share a strong commitment to protecting undomesticated lands and waters. We believe in using business to inspire solutions to the environmental crisis.”

This outdoor clothing and gear company donated $29 million to grassroots environmental organizations and participates in countless activities that advocate for the preservation of the planet. All of this is exceedingly commendable, but the way Patagonia has handled itself from a pr standpoint is what really sets an example for other businesses.

Patagonia’s official Web site features “the footprint chronicles,” that map out where certain product materials come from, the pros and cons of their products from an environmental basis, and what the company is doing to improve.  For example, Patagonia’s Vitaliti strappy dress’ materials are shipped from the Middle East and Asia and are not recyclable. The chronicles explain, “Because we buy spandex as a commodity we can’t trace its environmental impacts to its sources. Moreover, we can’t recycle products made of cotton/poly blends.” Then, they promise, “Vitaliti is in many ways an environmentally conscious fabric, but it needs to be recyclable. We need to find the supply chain of our spandex to determine its environmental footprint.” There are ten products examined by the chronicles and they are changed each season. 

This is the most transparent corporate behavior that lives in a time of greenwashing. If only all businesses were this fearlessly honest.  

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The Greatest Challenge PR Has Ever Seen

I thought I might need some inspiration since It’s been a few weeks since my last post. I decided to pop Al Gore’s masterpiece into my DVD player for a little passion- a little fire under my butt, if you will. (Even the trailer will get you going.) Watching this documentary always hands me those “ah hah!” moments as I witness the principles of a “sticky” presentation in action. The film never fails to bring me back to the basics of global warming and reminds me how time sensitive an issue this is. Gigantic glaciers are disappearing, rivers are drying up, and natural disasters are striking everywhere, more often. So, what can we do as public relations pros to help save the planet and its people? There’s a road block between science and politics that is making it difficult to put nation-wide caps on carbon emissions; However, there seems be also be a road block between the people’s ideas or intentions and people’s actions. How can we inform politicians and more importantly people, and convince them to change their behavior? This situation presents maybe the greatest pr challenge in the history of the profession. The biggest shame if this whole environmental movement is the fact that we don’t get to directly see the benefits of our eco-friendly actions. All we get in return for taking time out of our day to recycle, or the money out of our pockets for energy efficient products/services is the satisfaction of knowing we’re on the good side. Who wants to hear that? This situation lacks the instant gratification that our country has grown accustomed to. We want to exchange our car for a bike and then see ice re-form in the Arctic. Unfortunately that’s not really possible, so I ask all of you pr pros and students out there: What is the solution here? Is there a way to reward recyclers and carbon neutral organizations with something meaningful and tangible? Everyone knows that money has got to be the greatest incentive there is. Lately being green has proven to cushion a bottom line or two, and the idea is catching on, but I have to believe that something bigger can be done. Because, there are still people out there who believe that global warming is just a hoax. 

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Being Green is Just Good, Ethical Business

I was just reading a post by Kelli Mathews, one of the pr professors here at the UO, and she has some other interesting blogs featured. I followed a link to a Web site called Marketing Profs Daily Fix, which features numerous blogs written by marketing professionals.

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Lewis Green’s post this week literally made me say, “ah HAH!” It’s titled Green and Authenticity Make a Good Marraige, and it has cemented in my mind the idea that green business is a big factor in authentic, ethical business. Green calls it “leading with your heart, which means we always put people first in every decision we make, and everything we do is based on making the world a better place to live and work.” What a concept, right? Imagine if all business people shared his values. He says “when we lead with our heart, we act green,” and gives examples such as recycling, telecommuting and installing energy efficient lighting.  Green further suggests that “we measure the size of our environmental footprint. We begin with our present state and work toward a future state that reduces our footprint.” What delighted me most, however, was the fact that these points were in the mix with good values such as truth and genuine care for people.  Do my eyes and ears decieve me, or is green every businesses next good thing?

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Green is the New Black

Apparently being eco-friendly is a big trend in Hollywood, and the only thing a star has to do to become such a do-good-er is buy a Prius. While hybrid cars are a good start, I am encouraged by a-listers who really do care. While under the media microscope many actors and musicians are setting an example by committing a part of their hectic lives to the environment. Some are just now jumping on the bandwagon like Halle Berry, who’s just outfitted her baby’s nursery in eco-friendly everything, including disposable diapers. (You’ll be surprised to find out how crazy regular diapers are at Shane Bertou’s blog.) While other celebs have been setting an example for years. Willie Nelson has been an advocate of biofuels for nearly a decade. Will Ferrell not only drives the very first hydrogen-powered luxury sedan, but he’s moving into a house that is entirely eco-friendly.Heather Mills has a vegan cooking show in the works, and Jack Johnson’s summer tour will colaborate with his All At Once campaign to help reaise money for various green groups. His tour buses will run on biodiesel and his merchandise is all recyclable.

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The entertainment industry itself is also taking responsibility to increase awareness of environmental problems and promote action. Production companies and industry corporations are taking initiatives to green up their production of movies and television, and set an example for others. An article in Newsweek featured Howard Gordon, executive producer of Fox’s prime-time hit “24.” Among the many green things about the show this season, Gordon has decided to power his set with renewable-source biodiesel and print the scrip on recyclable paper. The iHollywood forum held its first ever Hollywood Goes Green Conference, where executives from companies like General Motors, IBM, Warner Brothers and NBC Universal gave speeches about Environmentalism as a business trend and methods of going green.

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Making a Presentation Stick

This week in my public relations writing class we are discussing what makes a message stick. We’ve started reading a book called Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by brothers Chip and Dan Heath (who also write a blog). This is exciting for me, because it’s not a text book. This a book that all pr professionals should probably read. The tone of the writing is casual, straight forward, and sometimes funny; and the arguments they make make a lot of sense. Our professor is having us apply their six principles of sticky messages to presentations that we’ll create with PowerPoint or Keynote software. The Heath brothers stress that any sticky message is simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, and narrative.

Basically we’ve been looking at examples of what to do and what really not do to. Surprisingly, a PowerPoint presentation given by Bill Gates was an example of what not to do. His slides were cluttered and predictable, and although Mr. Gates may be the most credible guy in the universe, his message was not concrete or emotional. On the other hand, Steve Jobs’ Keynote presentation was the stickiest of the stickies. His slides were simple and concrete, his timing and design created a level of suspense (an unheard of characteristic of a slide presentation) and the fact that he was giving a speech about the greatest accomplishments in the history of Apple Inc. gave him all the credibility, emotion and narrative a sticky message could ever need. I imagine my presentation falling somewhat shy of Jobs’ level of stickiness, since I’ve made only one or two very un-sticky slide presentations in my life, but for the sake of education I’m willing to give this a valiant effort.

There are some things I know to avoid right away: bullet points, big blocks of text, over use of color and graphics.

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I’ve decided to make my presentation about recycling to reduce energy consumption and preserve the climate (that wasn’t predictable right?). I’m excited to give some emotional, negative effects of global warming, present some concrete statistics about the benefits of recycling, and leave my fellow classmates with a simple message: Recycle, Reduce, Reuse.

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Let’s just hope I can steer clear of boring them, saying “ya know” or holding my hands like Mr. Burns -I mean Mr. Gates.

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Environmentalism Meets Capitalism

While our government has been a little slow to act to reduce climate change, the business community is taking the lead. More than 90 companies across the U.S. issued statements last year calling to legislate energy efficiency and put a cap on carbon emissions. However, “going green” is not just good for the environment. This business trend has proved to be beneficial to the bottom line as well. Corporations around the globe are increasingly considering environmental programs and operations reform as a way to appeal more to potential customers, attract more capital from environmentally conscious investors and save on fuel and electricity bills.

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According to recordonline.com, DuPont was able to cut its energy usage by 7 percent in 4 years. In the proccess it decreased greenhouse gas emissions by 72 percent and increased ouput by 30 percent, which made investors very happy.

 

It is clear that the future of big business is in reusable products, high emissions standards, healthy employee relations and transperancy in the way companies do business. All of this is great from a public relations standpoint.

According to Cox Newspapers Washington Bureau:

Dell inc. has pledged to go carbon neutral by cutting back on emissions, using more renewable energy and investing in environmental projects around the globe.

Coca Cola Co. has made design improvements to its Atlanta headquarters that cut energy usage by 23 percent and water consumption by 15 percent, while they’ve also launched a program to help save polar bears.

Delta Air Lines has decided to use portions of tickets sales to purchase carbon offsets.

Walmart Stores Inc. pledges to use more solar power in its stores, sell more sustainable products, and explore alternative fuels for their trucks.

and Google now powers its headquarters with one of the world’s largest solar power arrays. Its pledges to go carbon neutral and launch a massive program to reduce energy consumption in its giant data centers. Google is also investing hundreds of millions of dollars to figure out how to make renewable fuels as cheap as coal.

However, despite this promising business trend, some critics are quick to accuse many big businesses of “greenwashing”, or trying to make themselves look more environmentally friendly than they really are.

The idea of “greenwashing” brings a whole new level to transperancy. Claiming to be green when your just plain dirty is no way to attract customers, and investors are becoming especially keen of companies that will become an environmental liability in the future.

Recordonline.com, the online link to the Times Hearald-Record has some truely geen suggestions for any business looking to jump on the band wagon.

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