Since Greenpeace went to all the trouble to hang this banner, the least I can do is post the photo here. The publicity stunt was timed to coincide with the G8 Summit in Italy.
Category Archives: Climate Change
In a report issued on May 29th, the Global Humanitarian Forum estimates that 300,000 people die each year from disasters related to Climate Change. The Forum, a think-tank led by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, also believes that Climate Change seriously affects 325 million people and causes $125 billion in damage every year.
Climate Change disproportionately affects the poorest countries and the poorest people. The United Nations estimates that Africa will need $1 billion a year to help manage the effects of Climate Change, including the cost of relocating refugees.
Similarly, the International Organization for Migration claims that Climate Change will produce more than 200 million refugees by 2050. Many of these refugees will come from island nations that disappear due to rising oceans.
The affects of Climate Change are real. How many people will be forced to suffer before we make the serious changes needed to combat Global Warming?
Some of my fellow bloggers have been banging out PR trends for 2009, so I figured I’d jump on the bandwagon. And since I now have two weeks of insight into this New Year, my predictions will no doubt be far more accurate than theirs.
Here’s my list:
The Gatekeepers Look Scared
One of the most challenging things about media relations has always been coming up with a creative pitch you think the media will like, getting the media’s attention long enough to pitch it, hoping they like it enough to run with it and then praying the media doesn’t run to a water-main break instead of covering your media event. But for today’s PR pros, there are numerous avenues around the Gatekeepers and directly to your target audience. As the media continues to feel the financial pressure of a downturn, the Gatekeepers will become more scarce. Become fluent in all the ways to reach your target audience and you’ll still be able to do your job regardless of the Gatekeepers.
This isn’t your Father’s Public Relations
On a similar vein, the changing media landscape is changing our business. We now need to be fully conversant in media relations tools that didn’t exist 5 years ago. Social media, mobile media and the like are great ways to start conversations, and after all we are in the conversation business. Think about all the ways you can start conversations with your target audiences and develop resources to navigate those channels. Get aboard or get left behind.
The World is Changing, Change with It
In the past, “diversity” was frequently given lip service while business was conducted as usual. No more my friends. The demographics of this country are changing rapidly and the Obama Administration will be the face of a New America. Hispanics will continue to grow in population and increase their economic and political clout. Other ethnic and racial groups will become energized and outspoken about having their place at the table. Design outreach strategies for these groups or suffer the consequences.
Global Warming Heats Up
Despite economic turbulence and see-sawing gas prices, Climate Change as a critical global issue is here to stay. The incoming administration has made it a priority and PR pros need to be able to tell a positive environmental story about their company or client. The best organizations will design proactive environmental programs that make it easy for their PR folks to communicate effectively to target audiences.
Back to Basics
Despite the increase in tools and technology relevant to our business, there is no substitution for effective communication. While the look and sound of that communication may change, one thing that doesn’t change is the critical need to make yourself understood by your target audience. Effective writing doesn’t just mean good mechanics, it means communicating effectively so that the message is received and acted upon. Good communicators are hard to find, treasure them.
Research and Measurement are Necessary Evils
Too many organizations and clients today want to do things on the fly or on the cheap. Unfortunately, when you shoot the gun without aiming first, you will often miss. The way to take aim is to conduct research on your issue, your product, your audience, your message, your media and so on until you develop a communications strategy that you can have confidence in. Similarly, measurement must be done to determine if goals were reached (assuming you had measurable goals in the first place) and then adjust your strategy based on your findings. Don’t take shortcuts when it comes to research and measurement.
Doing Less With More
I’m a stickler for doing things right, but at the end of the day you can only do the best you can with the resources you have. That’s why it’s so important to find creative ways to harness the resources to do the job right. Internal resources can often be begged and bartered, external vendors are more willing to strike a deal to get some work. Don’t be afraid to be creative or haggle when it comes to marshaling resources.
SEO Needs SOS
Search engine optimization isn’t just for web heads anymore. Nearly all of your target audiences will seek out information about your company by using a search engine. All of the great PR in the world won’t help if the search engine results are not flattering, are inaccurate or point to a competitor. PR people need to be vigilant about their organization or client’s search engine results and take action when necessary. SEO strategies frequently span PR and web disciplines, so talk to your web colleagues today so you’ll be ready tomorrow.
Social Media Changes Everything
Social Media has created a tsunami of change for traditional media. Newspaper circulation and ad dollars are plummeting while tech savvy consumers get their news from the web, from cell phones and from non-traditional sources like the blogosphere (because that’s the way we bloggers roll). Networking sites like facebook and LinkedIn have created social and business networks that are radically changing the communications landscape due to their insular nature. Many media consumers now feel they have everything they need within their network platforms and needn’t venture out to get anything else. I can get a job, post a job, keep up with friends, keep abreast of current events and even buy products and services, often without going far from my network. Finding ways to intersect and disrupt social networks without intruding will increasingly become a sought-after area of expertise.
Those are my Public Relations Predictions for 2009. Feel free to put them to work for you.
Here in Virginia, we have a state Commission on Climate Change that includes 43 members who were appointed by Gov. Tim Kaine about nine months ago.
Recently the Commission met and reached consensus that:
A rising sea level caused by global warming poses a major concern for much of coastal Virginia, especially the heavily populated (and traffic congested) Hampton Roads area.
Warming would have significant impact on Virginia’s ecosystems.
Some Chesapeake Bay species such as blue crabs and oysters could decline or disappear.
I don’t know about you, but when you start messing with my seafood, that’s when I get mad!
The state commission is expected to make its recommendations on December 15th. In the meantime, check out some tips on what you can do about Global Warming.
Last week at California’s annual Climate Change Research Conference in Sacramento, two physicists associated with the Heat Island Group presented a paper which claims that if roofs in 100 major urban areas were switched to reflective material, they would offset 44 metric gigatons of greenhouse gasses. It’s hard for me to picture how big a metric gigaton is, but it sounds like a lot. In fact, 44 metric gigatons of greenhouse gasses is more than all the countries on Earth emit in a single year.
The bottom line is that dark roofs and pavement absorb heat and add significantly to global warming and climate change by trapping heat in urban areas. Just painting roofs white and paving roads with a lighter colored material could offset more than 10 years of emissions growth.
The paper says that replacing a dark colored roof with a white roof on an average American home would offset 10 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. And that’s for just one house!
California already requires new flat commercial structures to be built with reflective roofs and next year new and retrofitted residential and commercial buildings will need to have reflective roofs.
I really like those green roofs where people have planted grass and plants to reduce cooling costs. But reflective roofs accomplish much of the same thing and you don’t need to mow them. Now that’s win-win.
I recently completed a consulting assignment for a major national environmental organization. It was a great experience and I learned a lot. This is an article I wrote for the May 2008 edition of Virginia Business Magazine that describes the lessons learned.