Recent data analysis we carried out showed that the greenwashing discussion doubled every year over a three-year period between 2019 – 2022 across mainstream and social media. Reputable journalists are digging deep to ensure what they’re being ‘sold’ isn’t simply another example of corporate greenwashing, and vocal online audiences are ready and waiting to give their opinions and call out individual brands. However, the media is hungry for environmental stories, which means there’s plenty of opportunity to gain positive PR if you do it right.
Be ready to close the ‘say-do’ gap
With businesses being forced to be more transparent about their environmental sustainability goals and initiatives, simply talking about your commitments will no longer suffice. You must share the journey and progress you’re making to secure positive media coverage and avoid public scrutiny or, at worst, greenwashing accusations. You must close the gap between what you say you want to achieve and what you’re actually doing to make it happen.
Encourage your business leaders to create green initiatives that align with your business’ core values, stakeholder priorities, and the market’s legislative context. When you do this, your campaigns will feel relevant and purpose-driven, which will land well with your audiences.
Be honest and transparent
Be the first to announce when you’re falling behind schedule or need to do better when it comes to meeting your environmental goals. Don’t wait for a third party to do it. If greenwashing accusations arise, respond to them in a timely and respectful way. Publicize your plan of action to rectify the situation to show how important this is, and report back on it often.
Unsubstantiated storytelling leads to greenwashing accusations. The more detail you can share about the actions your company’s taking, the improvements you’re making, and the results so far - the better. Don’t feel tempted to just share top line information. Detail creates trust and a sense of earnestness about the impact you’re striving to make.
It can be tempting to jump on trends that have given other brands publicity or chase the news to boost your brand’s exposure. While this may have worked 5-10 years ago, it doesn’t anymore. Today, journalists are looking for more substance and have inboxes full of press releases that lack it. You should remain focused on what’s important to your business, the journey you’re on, and the impact you can prove.
Be an educator
It’s one thing to share what your company is doing to meet its environmental commitments, but quite another if you want to be perceived as sincere about creating lasting change. Explain why what you’re doing is so important and what will happen if these issues aren’t addressed. And show your customers how they can play their part.
Inside our latest whitepaper, we share our complete data analysis of how the greenwashing discussion’s evolving across mainstream and social media, how this is impacting the role of PR and comms professionals, and what you can do to build brand reputation in an era of greenwashing scrutiny.