Crafting Impactful Climate Change Communications

Published On: May 28th, 2024Categories: PRBy

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time, and organisations worldwide are increasingly committing to sustainability and environmental responsibility.  

At the same time, the reputational risk of greenwashing poses a significant threat. Communicating about an organisation, product or service’s eco credentials requires a nuanced approach that balances scientific accuracy, ethical messaging and audience engagement.  

We must not take the easy ‘way out’ and avoid talking about the subject. Widespread ‘greenhushing’ could result in the climate agenda slipping out of the news cycle, leading to misinformation and counteracting the push towards ESG-related transparency. 

Frameworks and Best Practices in Environmental Communication 

Understanding the Audience 

The first step in any successful campaign is understanding your audience. The general public’s knowledge and opinions about climate change vary widely. Some may be well-informed and passionate about sustainability, while others may be sceptical or less aware. There is also a wide range of sentiment about climate change: from passionate activism to a belief that we have passed the tipping point and are heading towards a global crisis. 

 Communicators must address this diversity: 

  1. Segment your audience: Identify different segments based on their knowledge, attitudes, age, and behaviours toward climate change. Tailor your messages to resonate with each group. 

Think about language: 

  1. Use clear and simple language: Avoid the alphabet soup of acronyms, drop jargon and technical terms. Use everyday language to make complex concepts accessible. 
  2. Leverage emotional appeal and tap into humanity: Storytelling is a powerful tool. Share stories of people and communities affected by climate change to create an emotional connection. Increasing an understanding of the real-life outcomes will spark change more effectively than just sharing data and the science. 

Crafting the message 

Vague language and unsubstantiated ‘eco’ terms are starting to erode consumer trust. Effective climate change communication must be transparent, honest, and fact-based.  

Explain what sustainability and net zero mean and highlight your organisation’s specific commitments and actions.

  1. Once your organisation has set its science-based targets to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, communicate those goals and the steps you are taking to achieve them. This builds trust through transparency and shows accountability.   
  2. Talk your organisation’s eco-friendly practices and certifications. Share your success stories but ensure they are accurate and specific. Talk about your challenges and where the organisation is falling behind – this establishes credibility and reinforces your commitment to the environment. 
  3. Ensure consistent information across all channels to maintain credibility and reinforce your key points.  
  4. Commit to a communications timetable. Say what you plan to share and when, and then stick to it.  


Use storytelling techniques 

We have already highlighted that using personal stories will humanise the issue. Whenever possible, highlight how climate change affects individuals and communities. 

Craft your campaign narrative with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Show the problem, the action your organisation is taking, and the positive impact of these actions. 

Incorporate visual elements like videos, infographics, and photos to make your message more engaging and memorable. 

Regulation and environmental claims  

Environmental claims made in advertising or marketing will be regulated in the jurisdiction where the campaign is published.  

For example, in the UK, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) plays a critical role in regulating environmental claims in advertisements.  

Standards published by regulators like the ASA will help to ensure that your messages are ethical and legally compliant, even if you don’t need to be compliant, they provide a ‘best practice’ guide to keep your comms on track.  

Key considerations include: 

You can avoid greenwashing by ensuring that all environmental claims are substantiated with credible evidence. Avoid exaggerating or misrepresenting your organisation’s environmental impact. The copywriter or comms team must question claims coming from other departments and ask for the evidence that backs it up. 

Be honest about your progress and challenges. If your organisation still needs to achieve specific sustainability goals, acknowledge this and explain the steps you are taking. 

Ask a colleague to review your messages to ensure they comply with regulatory guidelines and cannot be misconstrued. Fact-check all statements and be prepared to back them up with data. 

Building trust 

Trust is the cornerstone of any successful campaign. In the context of climate change, this means being transparent, ethical, and responsive to stakeholders’ concerns. 

Show tangible results of your environmental efforts – use KPIs, data and case studies to demonstrate the positive impact of your actions. 

 Whenever possible, we recommend involving stakeholders in your campaign development. This could include employees, customers, community members, and environmental experts. Their input and support can enhance the campaign’s impact, avoid missteps and is likely to help grow the campaign’s reach through their advocacy.  

Addressing Stakeholders’ Concerns 

Anticipate and address potential concerns from stakeholders. This involves actively listening to stakeholder feedback and responding promptly and with meaningful action – you must walk the walk.  

Consider what tools you can use to offer stakeholders information about your environmental initiatives. For example, this could be through reports, FAQs, or dedicated web pages. 


Planning and executing effective climate change campaigns require a strategic approach grounded in transparency, ethics, and engagement. By understanding your audience, crafting simple, specific, transparent and honest messages, adhering to regulatory guidelines, and using compelling storytelling techniques, you can build trust and inspire action.  

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