Being Green in Theory v. Practice

the ridiculous-nous of a dollarI must say that I am so tired of getting pile after pile of JUNK mail from groups (that for the sake of this post shall remain nameless…well that and I happen to be a card-carrying member of a few of them) that claim to want to save the planet in some form or fashion, whether it’s dirty coal one day or drowned polar bears the next…they fill your mailbox with pleas for your hard-earned dollar but seem to ignore one of the most basic and vital resources known to mankind as a species…clean air…produced in part by the very trees (some of them OLD GROWTH) cut down so that they could mail out their solicitations, most of which will never even be read, much less recycled and will likely wind up in some landfill taking up even more space and causing even more problems for these groups to complain about creating a new impetus for them to send out a whole new round of solicitations about these “new” problems to an uninterested public!

Whew! What an opening rant…

Ok, now let’s get serious folks. Yes I may be a hard-core environmental fanatic, but I make mistakes, have my failings, am outright lazy once in a while.(I sadly admit that even I have thrown away recyclable items without a twinge of remorse when tired, in a hurry with screaming toddlers strapped to both hips….) But, for the most part, I am working to be a responsible citizen, not just of my community, or even my country, but of my planet. I try to instill in my children the basic moral principles that less is more, and that homemade is from the heart. We avoid the big box retailers when possible, rarely eat junk, recycle regularly, endure the dirty looks we STILL get as we haul our cloth bags, walk more than drive and bundle up rather than crank up the thermostat.

Despite all these efforts, they can’t seem to avoid the barrage of mail we receive on a near daily basis asking for our support (which means money) and the really slick and cool ones promise that if we respond in 30 days we get a lovely reproduction 1930’s explorers backpack! How cool is that??

Just make sure you read the fine print…(you know the one that tells you that in exchange for that awesome backpack, only 5 cents of your $30 donation will actually help save the imperiled penguins, drowning polar bears or whichever cause it happens to be this month.)

Now please don’t assume I am bashing the wonderful work done by such groups as the Natural Resources Defense Council, The Nature Conservancy or the World Wildlife Fund. As a contributing member I do receive an annual report each year with an informative breakdown of how their money is spent each fiscal year. I study those charts and graphs ( and I am NO math major) and think to myself that a better use of such a  large chunk of  the money dedicated to marketing (to gain new members, raise more dues, and other advertisements) could be better spent on actually reaching out to college advocacy groups (the ones that are not afraid yet to write their congressmen and women and march on Washington in protest), providing grants to grassroots groups making real changes in communities,  etc.

To me it just makes more sense to spend that large  ( and I do mean large….well it is certainly many times more than I and probably most of my entire  staff make in a single year, but then I am a state employee so I guess I am probably not the best example to go by)

So for those of you out there…what are your thoughts on this???  Even using 100% recycled paper, should these organizations cut back their marketing and PR funding and maybe divert that money elsewhere where it might do more good? Please leave your comments below and let me know the following:

  1. Should these organizations reallocate their funding  to include more grassroots/ college advocacy movement workshop/events?
  2. Do These groups spend too much on marketing/PR/postage/etc?
  3. Is adequate research being done to ensure quality ROI for money and time spent?

I look forward to your time and answers. and if you feel more comfortable sending a more in-depth but private response, please feel free to email me a personal response.

I look forward to putting together these answers and then crafting a very nice letter to the presidents and CEO’s of some of these organizations, many of which I have faithfully supported in excess for more than 20 years. I want to know just how MY money has really helped (if at all beyond padding his or her salary while I struggle to feed my family) and whether or not they are truly following their own green  advice in both practice as well as theory…..

Until we meet again…..

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Want to Help Fix the Economy? Be a Scrooge!

I read a great post this morning that totally fit in with what I was feeling. I tend to dread the holiday season. Not that I don’t enjoy spending time with the family, watching old Christmas specials like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (my FAVORITE) and a Charlie Brown Christmas (2nd FAVORITE), eating my dad’s awesome Yule log (a lovely chocolate cake thing with maple flavored whipped creme…..aaahhhhhh……sorry having a Homer Simpson moment there) and sitting in front of a roaring fire. No, all those things are the essence of the holiday season for me.

What I hate is the shopping, the expectations, the greed, the consumerism, the obsession with STUFF we don’t need. Here is an excerpt from the blog that sums it up better than I ever could.

Go ahead...be a Scrooge for the planet!

Go ahead...be a Scrooge for the planet!

“We are in a mess. Actually we are in a bunch of messes. The financial collapse was caused in large part by our greedy and over consumptive nature and practices. Markets will not hold when so many people live lives based on an ever revolving line of credit, made necessary by the need to own more than one can afford.

The environmental mess we are in, is a direct result of over harvesting the planets resources to supply our consumptive society.

We are running out of nature… fish, forests, fresh water and minerals. We are running out of clean air, water and soil.

It’s not just about saving the planet though. It’s about returning to relationships that aren’t based on material gratification.

There’s only one way to avoid the collapse of this human experiment of ours on Planet Earth: we have to consume less.

It will take a massive mind-shift. You can start the ball rolling by buying nothing on November 27th. Then celebrate Christmas differently this year, and make a New Year’s resolution to change your lifestyle in 2010.” – Twilight Earth

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t give gifts to those we love, but what happened to homemade gifts, baked goods,  offers of services and other intangibles? Therefore I am not participating in the madness that is Black Friday. I will not step into any stores and will ignore the plethora of ads blasted at me from every direction. For once I am so glad I live in the boonies, have no TV and few radio stations that come in clear. Less media means less commercials to tempt me, or my children.

If you are a green organization trying to figure out how to convince people we need less, then definitely read the post I linked too and then try to help promote green gifts. Memberships and donations to green organizations such as your state government’s nongame wildlife program (which in Georgia relies entirely on donations and the sales of license plates), Green America, The Sierra Club or the Arbor Day Foundation who will plant a tree in honor of every donation, are all examples of gifts that not only reduce your carbon footprint, but will help to preserve the planet’s beauty for generations to come.

Another idea for green gifts – potted plants, framed comics from your local newspaper (print or online) that have special meaning, hand-made toys, blankets or scarves, and the list goes on. Last year a friend received a set of coasters made out of pop tops (mostly beer I admit) but they were so cool, and were an excellent form of recycling since many places that take bottles do not recycle the lids.

Want to help get us out of the greedy consumerist mess we are in, try not using your credit cards this holiday season. Be a scrooge, and save the planet.



Does Sensationalism Help or Hurt Conservation?

greenpeace activistAnyone familiar with conservation knows that there are those who prefer to make headlines rather than make actual headway on the issues. Not that these tactics don’t have their place – there are times when the only way to get attention for your cause is to make a bold move.

The trick is to know when splashy headlines and other sensational PR strategies will work and when it is better to maintain a slightly lower profile. While impressive when they work, these types of strategies have a low success rate and in some cases may do more harm than good.

When Greenpeace activists dangle from bridges, disrupting traffic, costing consumers time and money in the process, are they really furthering their cause, or are they actually moving backwards?

Another example – consider the group PETA. Many people automatically associate PETA (which actually does accomplish good things) with extreme activist methods including dumping animal remains into cars, throwing paint onto wearers of fur, breaking and entering and destruction of private property. The question you have to ask is: What has all of this done for actually furthering the cause of ethical treatment of animals? Case en point: If you ask the average Joe on the street what they know about PETA more often than not you get an anecdote about the groups reputation rather than something positive they have achieved. What’s worse, most of those same individuals are not even sure what PETA even stands for. (To be fair, many of the things they are associated with are no longer tolerated by the group, however the negative reputation remains.)

So how do you know when your extreme tactics are working and when it might be better to maintain a lower profile? Here are a few tips I’ve learned from my days of crazy over-the-top activism.

  1. Consider your audience – young people may become inflamed about an issue, but have little money to give. Do you need funds or simply a voice? Knowing this can help you decide who you want to reach and those you would prefer NOT to alienate.
  2. Have a plan – just because an action seems crazy doesn’t mean there is not a carefully laid plan behind it. Most publicity stunts are actually the result of a carefully scripted plan.
  3. Have a plan B – always have a contingency plan in place and know when to re-evaluate and maybe back off.
  4. Always look at the big picture. Maybe your crazy stunt will get some press coverage but don’t fall for those who insist that any press is good press. If you gain a few extreme followers but lose out in the short run, as many extremists do eventually become more moderate with age, are you potentially losing your future supporters.

Bottom Line: Always think first. Maybe having a hundred body bags dumped on the front steps of a leading tobacco company makes for great press and awesome commercials- that does not mean that those type of tactics will necessarily work to stop big business from destroying the last known habitat for a rare turtle.

Conservation must take into account a larger ecosystem/landscape approach if we are to truly make a difference. We as a species must consider that there is more than just a few animals and plants at stake. Understanding the psychology, culture, history and economics of a particular conservation issue will help to create smarter management plans that just may work, and probably better than just shouting at whaling vessels with a megaphone. GERMANY  G8 PROTEST

Everyday Public Relations is Going Green!


WARNING: The following post contains some controversial opinions but is not meant to offend. These are simply my thoughts and ideas. Feel free to share your own, and all constructive criticism is welcome as always; but please no unsupported arguments or religious debates. Thanks.

A long time coming, Everyday Public Relations is making some changes. While still focused primarily on PR in our everyday lives, you may begin to notice that more and more posts have a conservation angle to them. You’ll see ideas and tips for those who practice “green” PR as well as helpful social media hints for those in the conservation world.

To better explain this change let me start by telling you that I have these two great passions in life. (I actually have more, but only two relate to my career directly.) I love PR & Communications and I love conservation work. I have been lucky so far in that I get to combine the two on a regular basis. Working for a conservation organization as a public affairs officer has really been the best job I’ve ever had.

I do not however come into the world of conservation as a blind idealist or a hopeless treehugger. My viewpoints on the subject may seem a little extreme, and are hard to define, but I will try, in an effort to help my readers understand the nature of some of my posts.

Here goes: The planet Earth is the greatest evolutionary miracle that man has ever known. “What about people?” you cry. We (humans) are but one species, a blink of an eye on a planet that has seen more change, more wonder than any other that we currently know about. Throughout the studies done to explore space, our final frontier, it has been determined that our home planet is the only one of its kind – and is that way because everything came together so perfectly, at just the right time. Practically the definition of a miracle.

Now whether you attribute this miracle to God, the Big Bang or some other theory is your opinion and not something I care to debate. I do not judge and do not care for those who do.

Humans will not be around forever. Sad, I suppose but true. Eventually the Earth will die, as everything that exists and has ever exists does. It is an unavoidable truth-the planet’s lifespan will one day conclude.

Now that we are all depressed thinking about the end of the world let me say this. The timing of that inevitable event depends largely on our treatment of this blue and green world we call home. This is what I want to change.

I love this planet, down to its smallest bugs. I’m fascinated by life. To that end I want to share the wonder I experience on a daily basis with as many people and future generations as I can. I want my kids, grandkids, great-grandkids and so forth to know the simple joy of a summer night listening to a chorus of frogs; the majestic imposing beauty of the Rocky Mountains; the frozen seemingly endless oceans of the south pole with so much life teeming underneath the ice; the intracacies of a mountain bog’s eco-system and the awe of a fire rushing across a prairie-renewing life from its ashy wake. I could go on, but I think you get the point.

There is not a ton of money in conservation work or what has been dubbed “green pr” by some. Often you work long hours for little pay, much of your efforts being difficult and thankless. If you don’t love it, or have some greater calling, you burn out fast. It is demanding and despite the growing green movement, often your audience is stubborn, set in their ways. money driven or simply indifferent, which is the worst of all.

So…that being said, and I know I’ve gone on a good while now, my blog is changing, I think for the better. I want to really reach out to those who are using their PR and communications skills for more than just to make a profit. If I can help those working for a better world via PR and social media then I have been successful. There will still be solid tips on using public relations, and social media in the new world of work, there will simply be the added component of using what I know to help others help the planet…for as long as it remains our home.

Hope you stick around and join the conservation. I look forward to your comments.

Social Media Experiment a Success


The power of what having a social media network can do for an organization has never been more clear than the following example.

A conservation organization, “Replanting the Rainforests” embarked on an experiment using only social media outlets. They contacted bloggers, Facebook users and people on Twitter and asked them to blog, post and tweet about their content for one month. Nothing extra really, just a mention of their mission while doing what they always do. The results are staggering.

“In our first 30 days there have been more than 12,000 visitors to the Replanting the Rainforests (stats) web site – and there have been more than 78,000 page views. Amazingly, 35,000 of those page views have come in the last 7 days.

Eco Preservation Society’s @EcoInteractive Twitter account has exploded. 22,000 followers have been added in less than 60 days, with an unbelievable 12,000 new followers in just the last 8 days, averaging 1500 new followers a day over that period.

In just 2 weeks, the Earth Day Birthday – Give a Gift to Our Planet FaceBook group has added 3,450 members.”

Remarkably all this was done with absolutely zero marketing budget, built entirely on human capital and using only social media.

Something to consider huh?

If, like me you work for an organization with precious little cash flow, all of the sudden this whole social media thing really begins to look attractive.

Social Media Experiment a Success


The power of what having a social media network can do for an organization has never been more clear than the following example.

A conservation organization, “Replanting the Rainforests” embarked on an experiment using only social media outlets. They contacted bloggers, Facebook users and people on Twitter and asked them to blog, post and tweet about their content for one month. Nothing extra really, just a mention of their mission while doing what they always do. The results are staggering.

“In our first 30 days there have been more than 12,000 visitors to the Replanting the Rainforests (stats) web site – and there have been more than 78,000 page views. Amazingly, 35,000 of those page views have come in the last 7 days.

Eco Preservation Society’s @EcoInteractive Twitter account has exploded. 22,000 followers have been added in less than 60 days, with an unbelievable 12,000 new followers in just the last 8 days, averaging 1500 new followers a day over that period.

In just 2 weeks, the Earth Day Birthday – Give a Gift to Our Planet FaceBook group has added 3,450 members.”

Remarkably all this was done with absolutely zero marketing budget, built entirely on human capital and using only social media.

Something to consider huh?

If, like me you work for an organization with precious little cash flow, all of the sudden this whole social media thing really begins to look attractive.