Delivering for your clients on green in 2010

Whether it is packaging, water, green buildings, carbon footprints, or emission reduction, I am always surprised by the level of disconnect between clients' aspirations for their policy initiatives and the media's appetite.

Whether it is packaging, water, green buildings, carbon footprints, or emission reduction, I am always surprised by the level of disconnect between clients' aspirations for their policy initiatives and the media's appetite. I'm sure this question is familiar to us all: “We are launching our carbon reduction target: 20% by 2020. Can we get top-tier coverage?”

Dealing with this challenge since the green marketing frenzy of 2007, I have a lot of firsthand experience in trying to satisfy often unrealistic expectations. In most cases the outcome is usually a couple of pickups in green trade magazines and blogs, and maybe a lucky hit in the top-tiers, followed by an uncomfortable conversation with the client about why it didn't make front page of The New York Times.

So, how can we help corporate clients get recognition for their green efforts with media (and other stakeholders)? The winning formula is a total stakeholder engagement program: a combined media and stakeholder program, which provides “a little something for every audience” – the technology guys, the NGOs, the consumer, and, of course, the media.

So, what about the media? The first question should be, what do they want? Not, what does my client want to tell them? We all know the “sweet spot” between media wishes and client wants when we hit it and get a story. But with two full years of green behind us, slashed environmental editorials, and a disastrously over-saturated Copenhagen summit in December, is there an appetite for green stories?

Next, I will share some primary research I did last month with 160 top-tier broadcast and print media from around the world that cover green. Not only does it show little green fatigue, it also offers up the key topics that journalists want to write about over the next three months.

Mark Grundy is a VP in Edelman's CSR practice

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