By Polly Winograd Ikonen
In the past year or two, there has been an exponential increase in the amount of media coverage on environmental topics. This is good news for environmental organizations, think tanks and corporations involved in this space. But it also means there’s more work to do for the PR pros charged with promoting their activities and positions.
In a prior post, I focused on some of the basics of environmental PR. Here are some more tips for environmental PR specialists:
- Curate your media list. There are a LOT of reporters writing about the environment and climate change from a LOT of beats. So, in addition to all the reporters with those titles, make sure you include the real estate, news, travel and political reporters who also cover these topics. We’ve developed some really in-depth stories for our clients by working with meteorologists from local TV stations, as well as The Weather Channel. Also, don’t forget the wealth of freelancers who write about these issues, as well as the hyperlocal publications that Meltwater and Cision don’t pick up. And this media sector is always in flux, so don’t just set your list and forget it. Keeping it up to date is really important.
- Justice for all. DEI initiatives intersect with environmental issues. There are reams of data pointing to the fact that underinvested communities of color suffer greater impacts from climate change, have the least access to green space and generally get the short end of the stick time and again. Add to that the conservation sector’s own legacy of racism (eugenics and Indigenous displacement, anyone?), and it’s clear we have a lot of work to do. Make sure your organization or clients are prepared to do some deep work to consider what they are prepared to take on and answer for – and where they should lead with humility and defer to others.
- Activist or advocate? There are many environmental organizations dedicated to activating the public in support of their work and broader issues. At the same time, there are others that work in the background so that they can be perceived as neutral enough to make deals with any type of landowner or elected official. (That fossil fuel company most likely isn’t going to want to sell the contested property directly to the folks blocking the pipeline.) It’s important to know where your organization falls on this spectrum and choose your issues, language and communication channels accordingly.
- Managing complexity. Protecting and managing lands is complex and nuanced work. It often involves many partners and players. Figuring out who will take the lead, finding accessible language to use, and navigating the needs and varying MarComm capabilities of those many partners is tricky work for the PR team. However, herding those cats is critical if you want to have a PR impact with your good news. Working well in advance to get everyone on the same page is worth it.
- CCNow is a great online resource for climate journalists and publicists. Check out their blog post More Climate Reporting, At Last.
- Working on ESG? You’ll want to read this blog from our partners at PRGN: What most companies get wrong when doing their first ESG report.
- One of my favorite climate reporters to follow is Sammy Roth, who covers the energy sector for the Los Angeles Times. I always learn something useful from his weekly newsletter Boiling Point.