NEW YORK: Companies wishing to highlight their green credibility should probably pitch the "product" before the "green," said panelists on PRWeek's webcast "Greening Your Pitch."
The August 7 event, sponsored by CRT/tanaka, featured Seth Bauer, editorial director, National Geographic's The Green Guide; Wendy Bounds, small-business editor, The Wall Street Journal; Todd Woody, Green Wombat blogger and assistant managing editor, Business 2.0; and Michael Ekstract, VP and founder, Verdant magazine. Speakers provided insight to a live audience of 286.
Bauer opened with his views on the evolution of the world's "greening," saying the movement has changed from a post-World War II pollution-inspired government activism to an individual awakening, owing to events like global warming and Hurricane Katrina.
"Everyone is going green. Do your homework," he advised. "If a product is not really green, people will be aware of it."
Woody noted that increased VC investment in things like clean tech has helped drive the movement.
Speakers agreed that marketers should stress innovation, so as to not get lost among other companies' green communications. They added that product efficacy must be stressed as much as, if not more, than its "green" standing.
Bounds noted that consumers and reporters both want to know if a green product performs as well as a traditional one. "When you get to high-end products," she said, "be careful of asking consumers to make sacrifices...If it's organic or green, it's an added bonus."
Webcast attendees were asked numerous questions, with 77% saying they believed sustainability issues were not a fad; 52% said that talking about green issues in 2007 was "very important."
When asked what benefits were experienced from a green initiative, 35% said it "humanized the company," 22% said it increased market share, and 22% said it boosted staff morale and positively influenced recruitment.