Lighten Up, Pal!
Just over four years ago, I needed a catchy name for my new environmental/sustainability consultancy, so I, ahem, ‘borrowed’ the name from one session in a children’s international conference I spoke at (I wasn’t getting paid so, being a mercenary git, I had to steal something!). It’s not a bad company name, but it does have a number of disadvatanges:
1. It is difficult to read out over the phone.
2. Just after I registered it and bought the stationery, the VC firm Terra Firma suddenly hit the headlines by buying out EMI – cue confusion at my end (I doubt they got many calls looking for an environmental review).
but more importantly,
3. It’s a bit doom and gloom.
If you see any of my talks, I very rarely mention environmental damage – no pictures of melting glaciers or oil encrusted birds (a rare exception here). I am resolutely upbeat about green business and sustainability. I genuinely find it exciting to see an organisation making the right moves, rejecting business as usual, learning and innovating.
And this is the key rule of environmental communications, whether internal or external – make it fun. No-one wants to be beaten over the head with guilt or be lectured on how they’re destroying the planet. And being human, if we don’t want to hear something, we just switch off.
In practice, how do we do this? Well, for a start, get rid of all those annoying posters, all the pious ‘hands cupping a sapling’ pictures and any hint of sanctimony. This is a challenge, we’re all in it together, so we might as well have some fun while we’re doing it. Run competitions, use humour and make people feel that they can contribute.
I love the fact that Tesla’s first electric car is a sports car. That’s way cooler than a Prius. And cool will beat piety any day of the week – even a Bank Holiday Monday!