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Year 5: the conversation continues

by Nancy Rogers on January 8th, 2013

My favorite days include a meal balanced by informed conversation. This simple standard means most days are good.

During a 2008 lunch over salads and pasta I introduced two colleagues with responsibilities that included communicating green topics. The interaction was better than the food. While their respective organizations collaborated, they had not met face-to-face and were not active in the same professional associations.

In spite of an explosion of green groups and numerous professional organizations, a peer group gap existed for those considering how to integrate green into organizational storytelling at the local level. As an experiment, I reached out to a few people and started an online group with bi-monthly meetings. Now in its fifth year, several hundred individuals participate in the informal professional discussion group Atlanta Green Communicators on LinkedIn.

 Members work in area offices for various levels of government, PR and marketing agencies, nonprofits, higher education, media and corporations. For some communications is their sole charge, for others, it is one task on a long laundry list. Most have or had some link to metro Atlanta. This eclectic group offers varied viewpoints and experiences to sharpen communication skills. A commitment or interest in sustainability is the common ground that attracts participants that would otherwise be unlikely to have a conversation.

Initially, group polls focused on issues, meeting location and free parking. Logistics remain important. However, the topics continue to evolve as members and the marketplace become savvier about green, and overwhelmed by the flood of information. With roundtables, panels and featured speakers, bi-monthly meetings covered new FTC guidelines, internal communications, social media, green organizations, issue and member campaigns, legislative previews, water use, and storytelling to name a few.

There is no fee to join the group or attend meetings; just an RSVP for space planning. Discussion leaders are drawn from the membership, the community and visiting experts.

Join us at Manuel’s Tavern on third Tuesdays of alternate months starting in January from 5 to 6 p.m.  The next meeting is January 15. Thanks to Atlanta Daybook for its support.

Lesson Learned: If you can’t find a conversation, start one. If you have questions about starting a similar group, email

An Invite: Atlanta Tweet & Meet, March 20

by Nancy Rogers on March 16th, 2012

Learn how EarthShare of Georgia Leverages Earth Day to Communicate All Year on Tuesday, March 20, from 4 to 6 pm, EDT. Join us online from wherever or with a beverage and snacks in the Eagle’s Nest at Manuel’s Tavern in Atlanta. There are no registration fees for the Tweet & Meet hosted by Atlanta Green Communicators. An RSVP to is required to ensure adequate space at the tables.

Elizabeth Patrick, Director of Communications and Administration, EarthShare of Georgia (@EarthShareGA), will lead the conversation about how the organization’s upcoming Earth Day events generate coverage and build visibility throughout the year. From 4 to 5 pm, discussion will focus online using #atlgreencom. The traditional face to face meeting with tweets runs from 5 to 6 pm.
Anyone interested in Georgia’s green community may track the conversation stream, even without a Twitter handle. To follow the comments in real time, go to and enter the hashtag #atlgreencom. If you are not on twitter, you may also enter #ATLGreenCom as a search at and the results will appear. You will need to refresh to see new comments. If you use Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, a column may be dedicated to this chat.

EarthShare of Georgia is the state’s only nonprofit raising funds through employee giving campaigns to support seventy environmental member organizations dedicated to conserving and protecting air, land and water.

Atlanta Green Communicators attracts communication professionals as well as media working with sustainability and green issues. Individuals working to communicate green topics are invited to join the LinkedIn group.

Manuel’s Tavern is at 602 N Highland Avenue Northeast, Atlanta, GA 30307.  

How Corporate Social Responsibility is Like Losing Weight

by Nora DePalma on January 23rd, 2012

“The notion that addressing environmental and social challenges will give a boost to sales or stock prices may be putting the cart a bit before the horse.”

In today’s Bulldog Reporter, sustainability communications strategist Tim Woodall notes that CSR initiatives aren’t a silver bullet for fast ROI in terms of sales revenue or share price.

Building a reputation usually takes a little more than that.

Which is not to say that there isn’t serious money to be made from a commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR).  See Patagonia; Trader JoesSee Interface. These are not stories about branding or marketing. These are case studies in how a business can profit when social responsibility becomes part of the business DNA.

Think of it in terms of losing weight. (I don’t want to think about it either, but stay with me on this.) A crash diet nets fast results.   Attempting CSR solely through branding and public relations activities is like dieting.  It will work for a while and companies will benefit from being affiliated with good causes.

But if the rest of the company isn’t changing its behavior, those pounds, er, credibility issues will come back stronger and fiercer. And will be harder to remove. See BP and its millions of branding dollars lost.

To carry the dieting analogy even further (do we have to?), keeping the pounds off requires a lifestyle change. That lifestyle change includes a level of accountability documented by measureable metrics, also known as “the bathroom scale.”

In business, this lifestyle change to a new corporate DNA is measured in a CSR report.  Like the bathroom scale, we may recoil from what the truth says about us at first.  But the measurable progress is exciting. Not to mention extremely credible, and increasingly influential in consumer purchase behavior.  See Gen Y.

Read more from Woodall about building reputation–and ultimately profits–in this Bulldog Reporter piece.

About those plastic bags ….

by Lisa Lilienthal on December 28th, 2011

If one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to forgo the ubiquitous plastic bags in favor of reusables, or if your client wants to give away reusable bags for a promotion, it is, as Marc Gunther puts forth here, complicated.  Here, Marc has distilled a lot of really good information, giving us — as usual — a lot to think about.  Read it all here:

Marc Gunther – A blog about business and sustainability.

A Top 10 List Worth Checking Out from Andrew Winston

by Lisa Lilienthal on December 23rd, 2011

As Andrew Winston says, “Yes, it’s December again somehow: time to look back on what we’ve learned and oversimplify into a handy list.”  In lieu of doing that, I’d like to share Andrew’s, because it’s a darn good list!  Thanks, Andrew as always, for distilling the news so well and providing us with so many links within your story that take us interesting places.  Here’s is Andrew’s take on the 10 big stories in sustainability and green business this year:

Andrew Winston – Finding the Gold in Green.

Reflections on Green Trends

by Nancy Rogers on December 14th, 2011

Awareness is expanding. LinkedIn reports a 19% increase in people with “sustainability” as a skill in 2011 over 2010. Consumers and business understand that product choices affect our quality of life and future. Whether it’s the residue from soap or how to dispose of appliances, questions are raised about impacts.  As we move into a new year, I hope this foundation continues to evolve into informed action on energy, water, resource management, green building, air quality and all the facets that contribute to a healthy planet.

In my eyes green has become a melting pot of people and organizations around the globe with different priorities purporting to serve planet survival for future generations. Some are authentic; some are inserting “green” into existing sales materials. As communicators and consumers, knowledge brings responsibility to ensure holistic approaches and transparency at all levels.

Each week, I meet green marketers and eco-strategies with newly minted credentials. I do not question their passion. Whether they are checking a box on LinkedIn or calling attention to actual experience, it’s thrilling that we are now explaining “how” more often than “why” green matters.

Green Earth PR consultant Lisa Lilienthal observes, “As consumers become savvier, their expectations are higher in terms of value proposition, and that includes how you source, manufacture, distribute and recycle. Green is becoming shorthand for a more ethical approach to business in general.” She offered the Patagonia Don’t Buy This Jacket ad as an example.

Our colleague Louise Mulherin agrees that Patagonia has been perceptive with its communications strategies and posted on this particular ad. She notes, “The challenge becomes when consumers aren’t savvy and companies talk to them as if they were. Companies need to recognize there is a broad spectrum of understanding. Information should be formatted to suit the audience.”

Companies need to take into account that a green building audience or a facility manager would have different requirements than someone in the food industry.

Companies that are successfully using green marketing are transparent, relevant and clever to grab and hold attention. Patagonia included a call to action and mutual responsibility with a goal of 50,000 signatures to support The Common Threads Initiative. Results are tracked online.

We can follow the results and the example. Please add your thoughts on what you’ve observed and what you expect for green communications in the coming year.

A similar post appears in the Green Communications Blog for Environmental Design + Construction and Sustainable Facility

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.

A Twitpic DIY to Boost Tradeshow Visibility

by Reva Revis on September 14th, 2011

In perusing the plethora of social media platforms, I noticed that many companies and individuals are ramping up for the busy fall trade show season. In the pre-Twitter dark ages, we were forced to gear up for trade shows in isolation with individual email blasts and direct mail. Now, with Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms, we are able to build a mini-community specific to a trade show that allows us to connect with attendees and exhibitors in a more collaborative and democratic process before, during and after the event. My favorite social media tradeshow tools are Twitter and Twitpic.

Twitpic is free and easy to use. If you have a Twitter account, you can log into Twitpic by using your Twitter username and password. Twitpic lets you upload images via your computer or smartphone. Twitpic also provides a unique email address for each account (it is in the Twitpic account settings) so that you can upload an image via email with your corresponding tweet in the subject line. No matter which uploading method you choose, your image is then pushed out on Twitter.

In the weeks leading up to a trade show, I typically research which hashtags are emerging. For example, the NeoCon World’s Trade Fair changes each year: #NeoCon11, #NeoCon12, etc. Greenbuld, however, uses a combination of #Greenbuild and a hashtag that is specific to the show theme, such as #GBNEXT. Sometimes organizers will publish an “official” Twitter hashtag on the event website.

Next, I upload a product image via Twitpic with a tweet along the lines of:

#Greenbuild preview:  Product Name by @Manufacturer, booth number 123 #GBNEXT

The link for the Twitpic image will appear in the tweet. Then, I post the tweet inviting others to post to the gallery. For example:

#Greenbuild exhibitors upload product images to the @Twitpic gallery. Use hashtags #Greenbuild or #GBNEXT or

I’ve even posted invitations to events such as cocktails in a tradeshow booth – just save that invitation artwork as a jpeg and post! It’s a great tool for getting everyone on the same page, literally, well ahead of a tradeshow.

Written for Environmental Design + Construction:

Tweet Me Green

by Leanne Newman on September 9th, 2011

Within the Green Earth PR Network, we each have our social media “favourites”, meaning the type of social networking we each like to do.  My personal preference is twitter.  I love hearing the 140 character snippets from interesting people across the world.  I love making a connection based on a common interest with someone in Auckland, England, Vancouver and New York City as easily as I can with someone down the street. And I love seeing cool pictures from perfect strangers of their trip to Marrakesh.  Yeah, I know.  Some people don’t get it, but there are millions of twitter users who do.

So when work and my fascination with twitter come together, it’s complete fun for me. I was asked to host a #kbtribechat twitter chat for kitchen and bath professionals next Wednesday, September 15th from 2:00 – 3:00 pm EST.   Since a large portion of my work deals with kitchens only, I asked Green Earth PR colleague and bath product expert Nora DePalma, to co-host with me.  The chat is a gathering of industry professionals with common knowledge and professions, sharing ideas, advice and experience all within 140 characters.  It’s fast paced and entertaining and it’s a personal challenge to keep up with the idea stream as well as contribute.

Nora and I are formulating five questions to pose to the group within the hour about green communications and claims in the kitchen and bath industry.   Once the questions are tweeted, we watch, learn and comment as the responses flow in.  Our topic is entitled, “Shades of Green: Determining what IS and ISN’T”.  Even if you’re not involved in the kitchen and bath industry we will be talking about manufacturer claims, materials, responsible practices and general green principles which apply to business as a whole.

Search the hashtag #kbtribechat on twitter and drop by to say hi. Find me @woodnewman and Nora @noradepalma.

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.