How Monday Campaigns and WWF tailored their messages for COP21

On a subject as complicated as global climate change, some groups try to keep it simple.

Delegates to the COP21 conference (Image via Wikimedia Commons).
Delegates to the COP21 conference (Image via Wikimedia Commons).

Environmental groups are taking their messaging efforts to the next level after the landmark accord signed in Paris last weekend that attempts to roll back climate change on a global basis.

The World Wildlife Fund was an oft-cited voice at COP21. More than 6,000 outlets around the globe quoted the organization, as WWF used "pretty much every channel" to reach the public, said Steve Ertel, VP of media and external affairs at WWF.

Ertel, who noted he’s attended the event since COP13 in Bali, called the two weeks "intense," but also emotional when they concluded.

"It’s not the silver bullet for climate change [but it’s] truly historic. Nearly 200 countries agreed to tackle this problem," he said.

Post-COP21, WWF’s push is "more accelerated action in the near term," said Ertel, particularly before the 2020 benchmark. And with the event concluded, its other goal is to "keep momentum going [and] make sure people don’t fall asleep now," he added.

Cherry Dumaual, PR and partnerships director for the Monday Campaigns, said the organization went to Paris in an effort to promote its "Meatless Monday" effort – even if it wasn’t on the world leaders’ to-do list.

The approach of Monday Campaigns is focused on "keeping the message simple to say that a small change can make a big difference if everyone went meatless one day a week." If people were to cut out meat even one day of seven, the group contends it would not only result in a healthier lifestyle but "help limit people’s carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel."

To that end, its main message during the climate talks in Paris was "less meat equals less heat," said Dumaual. The organization caught the attention of the likes of students, NGOs, and documentary filmmakers attempting to capture the historic event.

"[Paris] was a really great place to network and see what other people are saying in terms of their causes and messages," said Dumaual.

Last weekend, representatives from 195 countries signed on to a legally binding agreement requiring them to fight climate change, with the ultimate goal of quitting fossil fuels and halt global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. While proponents hailed the pact as a landmark agreement, critics said it doesn’t do enough.

The agreement is substantial because there is at least a "strong commitment from 190 countries to act upon climate change in reality," said Pascal Beucler, chief strategy officer at MSLGroup.

"The way countries, institutions, organizations, and brands will engage with people on what they do will be very important," he added, noting that online followers are keeping tabs on groups’ promises to tackle issues like climate change.

"The power is definitely in the hands of the people [and] the value of a brand or corporation is very much linked to its reputation," said Beucler. "The new value system and the new ecosystem around that is about responsibility, credibility, and social commitment."

In particular, Millennials are keeping a close eye on how groups and brands act because that generation craves being "part of the change," Beucler added. The public at large has the power to decide where to take its business if brands, groups, and leaders aren’t responsible, he added.

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