Communicate, don’t intimidate.
How can you be more proactive about communicating about climate change in your organisation?
‘We will be net-zero by 2050.’ ‘In five years, we will have halved our carbon emissions.’ ‘We will be completely paperless by 2025.’ I believe everyone will have seen or heard one of these statements from large corporations over the last few years or so. All very valid statements, but they can be extremely overwhelming. A better place to start is today. What are you doing right now, in the short term, to combat climate change, and why does this matter?
Climate change has been at the top of the news agenda for some time, but it’s easy to get lost in all the noise. Account Manager Chloe Chescoe and Senior Account Executive Krista Osborne both attended communications-focused climate change webinars recently, and have shared their learnings below on how we, as comms experts, can keep the conversation on climate change flowing without overwhelming our audience.
Long term v short term
Long-term commitments are great to publicise, but it’s how you get there that matters the most. Talking about aims that are 10 or 20 years in the making can sometimes feel unrealistic and lacks commitment. This in turn can lead towards dishonesty and lack of transparency – two words no organisation would want to be associated with.
One way to work towards long-term goals, but not forgetting short-term actions, is involving staff members. In one of the webinars, it was agreed most members of staff in an organisation will want to have a stake in achieving long-term goals for climate change. One of the best ways to do this is by communicating the small steps and analysing how it adds to achieving your big end goal. Breaking it down allows people to feel more in control.
How can we talk about climate change positively?
For too long there has been negativity associated with climate change. The news agenda is becoming too familiar and repetitive and it’s hard to create news that differs from the rest. Due to the overwhelming nature of the topic, it is difficult to keep people engaged and motivated.
So, how do we as communications experts discuss the subject without people switching off and inevitably give up on their climate targets altogether?
Here are three ways communications experts can start the conversation on climate change whilst reducing the risk of inciting fear and consequent abandonment of the cause.
1 Drive honest conversations with all stakeholders and reassure them that it’s fine to make mistakes
We’re all on a journey when it comes to learning about climate change and sustainability. Everyone is at a different stage in educating themselves. While we should all strive to do the best we possibly can to combat climate change, we are only human and are bound to get things wrong sometimes. Understanding and learning from these mistakes is crucial. The real problem comes when the same mistakes are made and you risk falling into the trap of greenwashing. Keeping your communications honest and open is paramount.
2 Motivation, solution & community
Frame your communications in a positive, optimistic and engaging way. Try to stress that there are solutions to the problems and motivate your stakeholders to get involved, rather than scaring them into action. There’s also a lot to be said for community spirit. Driving communities together for the greater good is a great way to make people feel as though they are achieving something.
3 Understand motivation
Your stakeholders will all have different takes on climate change and what may be feasible for some may not be for others. As always, consider your audience before making statements surrounding the issue and really try to understand their own personal motivations behind change.
In one way or another, we will all have to take part in this vital change. Let’s try and stick to some simple yet effective guidelines. Focus on the positives and let’s try and walk the walk ourselves.