“Green” Claims Need to Be Authentic

“Green” Claims Need to Be Authentic

Happy Earth Day! Today I have been thinking a lot about something I heard Peter Shankman say last week during a webinar… he said, “People like to spend money on companies they like.” Seems like a simple enough concept, right? Well, I thought about that today as I was observing different companies and their actions – and attitudes – toward Earth Day.

Have you ever noticed how some brands seem to “use” Earth Day as an opportunity to cash in on good PR, even though they are not normally very environmentally friendly?  Is your company or  client anxious to announce to the world that they are “going green”?  Generally speaking, the public likes it when organizations take care of the earth.  So why not get the word out and improve your reputation?  Well… because if your company or client is just incorporating one small environmentally friendly change in order to get some good PR, and it is not consistent in doing other environmental practices, it could quickly turn into bad PR.  On this Earth Day I’d like to caution PR pros to exercise restraint when it comes to promoting an organization’s environmental actions unless they are:

  1. Consistent in their environmental practices throughout their organization
  2. Truly making a real impact on the environment

People who truly have a heart and passion for taking care of our earth can see through feeble attempts for organizations to make themselves look good to environmentalists.  If an organization truly wants to “go green” and has a passion for making positive changes to impact the environment, then that is something worthy to announce.  Just realize that “going green” is a mindset and should be baked into every area of the organization.  A company that is “going green” should be consistently providing its employees with opportunities to live “green” as well.  Recycling at work, ride sharing, encouraging the reuse of items and providing environmental ideas and information are just a few possibilities.  The term “going green” has been highly overused in the past 5 years.  Audiences really only want to hear that term used when it is authentic.

The second qualification for getting a “green” light in promoting an organizations environmental practices is this:  are they really making an impact on the environment?  If an organization has a production plant that emits toxic chemicals into the air and they are bragging about using recycled materials in their packaging they are not truly having a positive impact on the environment.  Doing one good thing for the environment doesn’t cancel out the bad.

I highly encourage all of us to find a few small changes that we can make this year to help take care of our earth.  Just be careful not to claim you are “going green” unless you really mean business!

 

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