Climate Week NYC, dubbed ‘Burning Man for Climate Geeks,’ has grown from a small series of panels to a full-blown showcase of human innovation.
For a week in September, the biggest names in climate leadership, including Al Gore and Bill Gates, cleantech start-up founders, sustainability officers, policy wonks, scientists and advocates gathered to share announcements and initiatives for climate change solutions.
While we were there, we noticed how many economies and industries are adopting sustainability efforts. It was clear that aligning company purpose, funding and messaging still remains a challenge. This underscores the crucial role of PR. On top of that, greenwashing was prevalent, with some organizations prioritizing spin over action.
For all the excitement, communicating in this evolving and emerging space isn’t easy. To that end, we’re sharing the freshest approaches we learned about when it comes to successful climate activism and how they apply to PR when promoting individuals and businesses in this community.
The Role of Digital Activism
Companies and leaders cannot afford to disregard the impact of social media activism. It’s a powerful tool for raising awareness about climate change and showcasing solutions to combat it. By actively engaging in advocacy and education across social media platforms, companies can foster communities, educate the masses, leverage their expertise, advocate for favorable policies, and engage with stakeholders.
Additionally, social media activism can help attract top talent by aligning a company’s mission and offerings with global movements for climate action. It’s a crucial facet of corporate social responsibility that enables companies to demonstrate their dedication to the planet, innovation and being a good corporate citizen. However, authenticity is key. Aligning actions with words is essential to avoid greenwashing and maintain trust with the public.
Fuel Change with Positive Narratives
Communication plays a pivotal role in shaping public perception and inspiring collective action. Toxic outrage is a powerful motivator, but only in the short term. Optimistic messaging, on the other hand, reinforces that we have the technology, solutions and collective will to combat climate change successfully.
Climate Week is a shift towards optimism over alarmism, emphasizing the urgency and potential for positive change.
Effective communication is key to instilling hope and motivation, encouraging sustainable behaviors, and gaining public support. PR plays a vital role in conveying the right message to foster unity and optimism.
Hopeful was the word of the week. Not only did we meet like-minded people at Climate Week NYC, but we met people of all ages, backgrounds, industries and interests. Climate Week is no longer just people gathering to talk about climate change, it’s people who are hyper-focused on the small, sub-sub-subsectors within the climate bucket. We were moved even seeing how much the New York City agtech community has blossomed. Solutions come from people who are zeroed in. That focus shifts from trying to address a massive, complicated problem to the incremental steps that fuel progress and change. It made our team feel like every sector had superheroes and that no one was alone in this.
Authenticity Through Mission-Aligned Messaging
A clearly defined mission can be a north star for knowing exactly what you stand for—the decisions you make, the actions you take, and the way you communicate it. A smart messaging plan will align your organization’s core values and mission with your business initiatives to ensure the public perception of your climate efforts are authentic and aligned with your stated purpose.
During The New York Times Climate Forward event, Bill Gates faced inquiries about the climate causes his organization supports, including investments in agriculture, carbon offsets and nuclear fusion. In response, Mr. Gates succinctly referred to the organization’s core mission, which is “to help all people lead healthy, productive lives.” He emphasized how he evaluates the impact of climate change in hindering the accomplishment of this mission, whether it’s related to food security or vaccine production.
As companies grapple with the challenge of authentically communicating their climate and sustainability efforts, it becomes evident that their mission serves as the essential filter to guide their actions and messaging.
Empower Climate Innovators Through PR
With a growing number of startups and innovators joining the climate space, PR-driven storytelling has become increasingly crucial to showcase sustainability commitment, attract investors, secure the public’s attention and foster partnerships.
Stakeholders and communication professionals working in this space can also rely on organizations such as Women and Climate, a nonprofit fostering inclusive collaboration and climate dialogues, and Clean Creatives, a project uniting PR and ad professionals pledging to abstain from fossil fuel clients. These networks empower industry professionals to act as change agents beyond work, fostering partnerships and meaningful climate change impacts.
Is your company creating solutions to address the most pressing climate challenges? Let’s talk. RH Strategic works with innovators in the climatetech industry to distinguish their brands and enable them to ethically and effectively convey their narrative to the world.
RH Strategic is a Seattle and D.C.-based PR agency with a nationwide presence and additional global reach via membership in the Worldcom Public Relations Group. We provide strategic public relations for innovators in the technology, government, healthcare, and social and environmental impact markets.