Voluntary Sector: Greenpeace plans more 'radical, risk-taking' comms approach

Greenpeace's PR chief wants a more radical comms strategy that involves a greater degree of risk-taking.

Comms director Ben Stewart said Greenpeace aims to capitalise on the growing media appetite for stories about energy and aviation.

'We want to become a more radical environment movement - and that means taking more reputational risks,' Stewart told PRWeek. 'We will be pushing the boundaries of our normal Greenpeace campaigns and trying new things.'

Evidence of the new approach was seen last week when the charity sent out secret Whitehall documents to journalists in an attempt to inform their coverage about the Government's controversial expansion plans for Heathrow airport (prweek.com, 1 February).

The documents were sent in spoof Airfix model plane boxes, with claims that the Government and BAA are planning to 'fix' the public consultation on Heathrow's third runway.

Journalists were sent a set of assembly instructions, which read: 'Carefully remove all references to climate change; make sure the interests of BAA and BA are placed in position first; attach misleading guarantees on noise and air pollution; cut out public opinion from consultation and discard; fly your planes to climate disaster.'

Stewart said the charity was not expecting an instant wave of coverage, but was hoping to provide journalists with a fresh perspective on the issue.

'The people that we want to reach - such as news editors - are mostly of the generation that grew up with Airfix models,' said Stewart. 'We hope that this way of presenting the information will get them to laugh at the joke - and then read the documents.'

He added: 'Air travel has always been seen as romantic and people don't like being told it's evil. We wanted them to remember their childhood, but then twist their perceptions.'

The NGO also has a team of lawyers trawling through the documents to see whether or not it has a case for judicial review.

This was a technique that was successfully used last year when Greenpeace got a judicial review to challenge the Government's consultation process on nuclear power.

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