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Archive for the ‘Grammar of Green’ Category

Principles of Green Communications

by Nancy Rogers on March 15th, 2012

My most recent posts for Environmental Design + Construction magazine’s Green Communications blog address two basic, yet critical communications tenets: listening and clarity. Please add your comments.

Don't Buy This Jacket – Inspiring Black Friday Ad from Patagonia

by Louise Mulherin on November 28th, 2011

In the midst of all the store flyers advertising Black Friday deals, I saw this ad in the New York Times from Patagonia. I loved the message, what a refreshing approach to the mass consumerism of the day.

With the catchy headline, Patagonia aimed to draw attention to the deeper message – the impact that manufacturing has on our environment. But what struck me more was their approach. The ad outlined the harm that the making of just one jacket has, and in specific terms that don’t take an engineering degree to understand. For example, the jacket requires 135 liters of water in the manufacturing process, that’s enough water, in their estimate, for 45 people for one day.

What’s unusual about this approach, in my experience, is the transparency about one specific product and its impact. It seems many more companies communicate their environmental successes by talking about what they have left out of the process, or what was theoretically saved by using less-intrusive raw materials or methods. That approach might give some consumers a false sense of environmental security – this product uses less material or less energy to produce, therefore it’s better. Which may not always be the case.

Some consumers might read the Patagonia ad in a negative way. Sure, there’s a bit of a guilt trip there, especially compared to the feeding-frenzy mentality of Black Friday sales. Full disclosure, my household was not immune to Black Friday either, my husband did take advantage of a one-day sale on my Christmas gift (purchased online). I didn’t go anywhere near a shopping center, not to make a statement, it’s just not my thing to line up with hundreds of other people to save a few bucks.

Patagonia included a call to action in the ad, asking people to take the Common Threads Initiative pledge. The pledge asks for action on both sides, for example they pledge to make useful gear that lasts a long time, and to repair gear or find a new home for it when a consumer no longer needs it. Consumers pledge to only buy what they need, to fix what’s broken, and to keep items out of the landfill. Their goal is to get 50,000 people to sign the pledge, and they are tracking results online. It will be interesting to follow this Initiative to see if it gains traction. Kudos to Patagonia for asking for mutual responsibility in the effort.

In today’s environmental, and economic, climate, I hope their message was as impactful to others as it was to me.

First posted on Nice To Be Seen.

Grammar of Green™ Communications – think before sharing

by Nancy Rogers on August 16th, 2011

Think before your speak. This childhood adage serves me well as a communications professional.

In films “Did I say that out loud?” may get a laugh. Not so much in the business world when the words are instantly blared via multiple channels—tweets, emails, images and posts. The consequences can be costly.

Starting smart, rather than losing time and dollars attempting to correct mistakes in the flood of information is worth the effort. Message mapping is a valuable exercise. Take the time to deliberately consider your objectives, audience, and language. What do you want to accomplish?

What are your objectives?

Fuzzy objectives do not lead anywhere useful or build the foundation for a compelling story. Consider the purpose.

Inform the audience?

Launch a new service or product?

Demonstrate thought leadership?

Differentiate your offering from the competition?

Challenge the status quo?

Inspire action?

Increase sales?

Build loyalty?

Recognize achievement?

What do you know about your audience?

The more you understand your audience, the more effective message development and channel selection will be. Professional organizations, third party partnerships, industry events and trade publications are good resources for B2B outreach. Aligning channels and audience ensures that format and language support objectives.

What are credible sources of information on this subject for the target group?

What channels are most effective?

What holds the attention of the audience?

What motivates them to act?

Are the benefits clearly and simply stated?

Is your story relevant?

Do you open a conversation that respects the audience?

Does your language align the objective, audience and selected channels?

Word choice and arrangement form a potent pair. A message developed to build visibility may not generate sales. A pithy tweet may lead to a very technical white paper.

Is the message memorable?

Are the words chosen the best for this story?

Is the language familiar to the audience? Is the syntax correctly applied?

Do the words distinguish the products or services from competitors?

Do the visuals complement the language?

Have you tested the message on impartial ears and eyes?

The fall trade show season and 2012 communications plans are around the corner. To stand out from the crowd, rely on clarity, consistency, and transparency when delivering green messages. Please share examples that work or fail from your reading, online journeys and industry adventures.

Published: and

Communicating Green, Trade Show Participation Part II

by Louise Mulherin on July 13th, 2011

It’s time to start thinking about your company’s Greenbuild presence, check this blog post from ED+C magazine for tips on how to walk the green talk. What is your company doing to tell your green story at Greenbuild?

Communicating Green, Trade Show Participation Part II 2011-07-13

And don’t forget, with Greenbuild in Toronto this year, US residents will need a valid passport to attend, be sure yours is up to date.

Communicating Green: Trade Show Participation Part I | 2011-06-09 | ED+C Magazine

by Lisa Lilienthal on June 10th, 2011

Green Earth PR Network’s own Louise Mulherin has contributed a blog post to ED&C magazine‘s site, just in time for summer trade show season and the big daddy of the commercial interiors world, Neocon.  Here are her tips for thoughtful trade show participation and attendance:

Communicating Green: Trade Show Participation Part I | 2011-06-09 | ED+C Magazine.

And, don’t forget that Green Earth PR offers CONNECT, a web-based subscription database of the best events in the B2B green/sustainability/corporate social responsibility space!

Grammar of Green Communications: Conversation Tip – Know Your Audience

by Nancy Rogers on May 20th, 2011

We take for granted that our modern business world operates 24/7. Personal and work-related calls intersect on cell phones along with texts, tweets, emails and more.

While caller ID can be a life saver, we occasionally ignore technology only to receive a gentle reproach from friends or family expecting a more personal greeting. This predictable exchange is a reminder of a basic tenet of all communications and especially green conversations—know your audience.

Most of you reading this post spend a portion of each day reading updates and exchanging ideas around environmental, social and economic issues. It can be a shock to realize that we have co-workers and neighbors who have never heard the phrase Triple Bottom Line or greenwashing. Seriously, and they are not hermits.

Although it seems elementary, remember talking above or down to your audience will not serve your message or produce the desired call to action. The value of your knowledge and expertise is multiplied when you have the capacity to share information effectively. Even within the green community, designers have concerns that vary from facility managers. A healthcare industry group may offer questions on a different path from hospitality or higher education.

If you want to motivate or educate your readers, listeners, family, friends or followers, here are five tips for green communicators:

  • Convey points in a manner that has value for the audience. What do they expect from you?
  • Offer facts that they can use in a way that they will remember. When appropriate, use humor and personal experiences. For example, what was the first item you recycled?
  • Determine in advance whether the conversation will operate in the same or similar shades of green. Where is your audience on the path to sustainability? The metrics may be determined by passion, experience or shared goals. What is the key take-away and have you presented it effectively?
  • Use simple clean language to reduce confusion. We all use jargon. If in doubt, test your draft for a fresh perspective. Recognize that their baseline may be misinformation.
  • Be authentic and transparent.

Do you have green communication examples that would end tree planting on the low end or create a forest on the high end? Please share.

First posted on

When It Pays to Spend on Trade Shows – BusinessWeek

by Lisa Lilienthal on May 3rd, 2011

Networking, product launches, expert positioning, competitive analysis — all are great reasons to think about attending a trade show.  But when does it pay to exhibit?  Here’s a great piece from BusinessWeek Small Biz.  The ideas really apply to any size company.

CONNECT, the event management tool from Green Earth PR Network, provides a great overview of the sustainability and green business space, and is an intuitive and easy-to-use tool that helps you evaluate and develop your trade show/event calendar.  We’re offering a one-year subscription for $595.  Contact us for an online demo!

From the article, “Although webinars and virtual online trade shows have become popular in recent years, and serve a marketing purpose, they are not replacements for face-to-face events … “

When It Pays to Spend on Trade Shows – BusinessWeek.

Sales of ‘Green’ Household Products Fall as Consumers Cut Spending –

by Lisa Lilienthal on May 3rd, 2011

This April story from New York Times talks about ‘green fatigue,’ particularly in the relatively higher priced category of household cleaners.  The conclusion seems to be that consumer won’t pay more for green products during a recession, but I suspect it is a little more complicated.  Speaking purely as a consumer, I’m more brand loyal to companies that have sustainability in their DNA – like Method, Mrs. Meyer’s, and Seventh Generation — to me, those products perform better and are more in line with my family’s lifestyle. What do you think?

Sales of ‘Green’ Household Products Fall as Consumers Cut Spending –

Sustainability 2.0: Current Trends at the Confluence of Social Media and CSR | Sustainable Life Media

by Lisa Lilienthal on May 3rd, 2011

The Sustainable Brands 2011 conference is just around the corner, and this new report on social media and CSR is a great primer for the dynamic conversation that is sure to be found at this annual gathering of some of the best minds in the business.

From the article:  ” … this intersection of social media and sustainability is a right-of-passage for companies seeking Authenticity, a momentum-changing force for companies in today’s economy. The rewards for companies that manage authentic communications are enormous. Authenticity not only allows companies to more effectively manage their external reputations and brand perceptions, but it encourages greater employee engagement and improved recruitment opportunities. And the most authentic companies are able to open up new market opportunities because they avoid being defined by market perceptions.”

Sustainability 2.0: Current Trends at the Confluence of Social Media and CSR | Sustainable Life Media.

Global Green Marketing Market to Reach $3.5 Trillion by 2017, According to a New Report by Global Industry Analysts, Inc.

by Lisa Lilienthal on May 3rd, 2011

This is an interesting report on the size and scope of “green marketing” activities, which contradicts some of the ‘green fatigue’ press we’ve seen lately.  Are your clients putting more or less of their budgets towards ‘green’ marketing, or as is the case with mine, is ‘green’ implicit in everything they do?

Global Green Marketing Market to Reach $3.5 Trillion by 2017, According to a New Report by Global Industry Analysts, Inc..