The Great Reset - Latest Updates

Latest Update:

Great Reset Event: Climate Change, Communicators & The Irish Media

On 9 July almost 100 members of the Public Relations and creative communications industry in Ireland gathered for a Q&A discussion with Dr. Pat Brereton (co-chair of the DCU MSc in Climate Change) and Kevin O’Sullivan (Irish Times Environment and Science Editor).

The discussion, supported by the PRCA & PRII, focused specifically on the role that the communications industry and media plays and can play in tackling and communicating the climate emergency in Ireland. Attendees from agency, in-house and public sector bodies engaged on the issue of climate change with expert guests Kevin and Pat sharing rich insights from their backgrounds in media and academia.

It was a very relevant discussion for public relations practitioners, so we encourage you to watch the video of the event below:-

Media is often credited with being at the centre of the fight against climate change, shaping public attitudes and actions. Similarly, PR and communications is an extremely broad but influential field that plays a pivotal role when it comes to emergencies, as has been highlighted during the Covid-19 pandemic. How creative communicators engage with the media on sustainability stories is critical.

Communicators Working with Big Questions

As a community of communication professionals, those in the creative communications sector concerned about climate are working with some big (and wide ranging) questions. These questions touch on themes from tackling greenwashing to communicating complexity.

The Need for Creative Imaginaries

Dr. Pat Brereton highlighted the need for ‘creative imaginaries’ - professionals who will come up with the creative ideas that will get across climate change and get everyone to come on board to tackle the challenge:  “I’m very interested in how we can reimagine Covid into the bigger challenge of climate change... PR and advertising has a lot to do in assessing and developing more nuanced and sophisticated responses to complicated problems.”

Need for Changing the Narrative

Kevin O’Sullivan highlighted the continued need to make the climate challenge feel relevant to everyone in society: “Up until now Irish people acknowledged the climate issue but felt it was remote - both in time and place… This might not change until we have a heatwave of over 40 degrees… But people are seeing the global picture - we’re an outwardly looking country.” He went on to say that everyone can do more (it was guilt that drove him to focus on this area in his work) and that none of us are doing enough, and that ‘has to be the great motivator’.

Kevin also stressed the importance of moving beyond ‘doom-ism’ or narratives of catastrophe: “not only does that not work in terms of change, it just can overwhelm people. There is such a thing as climate-stress...We need to focus on solutions and what we can do to bring about meaningful change. ’Emissions’ are a turn off in many ways but [people] understand the need for change, so the conversation has changed because people want to get on with it. If it’s preachy or doom-laden it loses its audience very quickly.”

Quote of the day went to Kevin: “There’s a realisation that climate is becoming the overriding issue in politics, economics, business, environment & lifestyle. None of us can avoid the issue.”

We Must Share Know-How

Finally, Kevin echoed sentiments from the broader community about the importance of sharing knowledge and nurturing spaces for collective learning and action: “The task is so hard, that you should be sharing knowledge with each other. Businesses should be sharing knowledge in how they are decarbonising and genuinely embracing sustainability. I like the concept of ‘we must share know-how' because it's such an immense task.”

The mission of Purpose Disruptors is to create a visible, large-scale movement within the industry, working together to make the necessary transition to meaningfully tackle climate change. To keep up to date with Purpose Disruptors Ireland and get involved in future events, you can sign up to the mailing list here or email Loading....

Previous Updates:

Latest update (16 April 2021):


Work in communications and care about the planet? The new framework measures the greenhouse gas emissions driven by advertising and identifies ways to maximise the ‘Return on CO2e’. 

Sign up here.

The Great Reset Fortnight, a series of events and workshops designed to empower communications professionals to accelerate the fight against the climate crisis, kicks off on 28th April 2021 at 1pm with a free industry workshop on ‘Ecoffectiveness: The Missing Measure’.

Key to ensuring the creative communications industry helps society and business to reduce its collective carbon footprint, is re-evaluating what it measures and celebrates as ‘success’. The first event of the series, this virtual workshop will feature international industry experts from well known agencies Caroline Davis (Managing Director and Sustainability Lead, ELVIS) and Ben Essen (Chief Strategy Officer, Iris) who will share the Ecoffectiveness framework - a new methodology for analysing and the carbon impact of our work, and unlocking the creative strategies to do it. 

Major brands are increasingly committed to a new key business metric: reducing greenhouse gas emissions to Net Zero. Yet none of the industry’s existing success measures are fit for purpose.   

Ben Essen, Chief Strategy Officer, Iris, said: “We developed the Ecoffectiveness framework as an invitation to help answer one question: if profitability and emissions have always grown hand in hand, how do we uncouple them? By taking on 21st century advertising’s most significant challenge, we hope the UK can live up to its reputation as world leaders in marketing effectiveness.”

Caroline Davison, Managing Partner, ELVIS, added: “Reducing emissions while maintaining profitability is a challenge that all of us in the industry must take responsibility for. It’s going to be hard, and difficult decisions definitely lie ahead, but we need to face into them and do it together in a way that is honest, consistent and open for all. This practical framework sets out how we can start to do that and helps agencies and clients to see how their success metrics can evolve accordingly.”

The new methodology incorporates three key elements:

  1. Transparent reporting of the incremental uplift in greenhouse gas emissions driven by advertising – to create a core data set from where improvements can be tracked
  2. Establishing an industry standard ‘Return on CO2e’ (the revenue generated for every tonne of CO2 equivalent emitted) – to provide a consistent approach that allows for comparison across sectors and campaigns
  3. Building insights by identifying Levers of Ecoffectiveness – a model which adapts Iris’ award-winning evaluation framework to identify where headroom exists and what methods can be used to reduce impact while maintaining profitability

Jonathan Wise, Co-Founder of Purpose Disruptors and 2008 IPA Effectiveness Gold winner said: “A primary goal of advertising is to sell and yet, as a strategist, I came to realise that the better I was at my job, the more damage I did. This is because a consequence of increasing sales, is the increase in carbon emissions this consumption generates. If we want to celebrate the sales growth we create, we have to take responsibility for the associated carbon uplift. That’s on us. This new initiative provides a simple way for the industry to step up and take our place in helping society and business to reduce our collective carbon footprint.”

 The Great Reset Fortnight, organised by Purpose Disruptors Ireland will give Irish advertisers, marketers, creatives and communications professionals the chance to learn more about the impact this industry can have in Ireland’s fight against climate change. These sessions will be the first of their kind in Ireland with the aim of reshaping the advertising and marketing communications industry to only promote attitudes, lifestyles, behaviours and brands aligned with a net zero world by 2030. A number of ‘Change The Brief’ workshops will be designed for individuals across multiple disciplines, designed to inspire new thinking on how to assert agency and have impact, no matter your role or seniority. 

Sign up for Ecoffectiveness here

For more information contact the team: Loading...


What kind of leadership does the world need right now?

The need for the creative communications industry to adopt a leadership role in the context of climate and sustainability was revealed last year through exclusive research for The Great Reset by Purpose Disruptors (a network of individuals working together to reshape the industry to tackle climate change).  In Ireland, it found that 90% of the population think it is the advertising and creative (communications) industry's responsibility to encourage more sustainable behaviours, like during lockdown.*

On March 26th, over 50 members of the marketing, advertising, PR & communications industry got together as part of Purpose Disruptors Ireland’s ‘The Great Reset’, to learn more about what it means to be a sustainability leader today. They were joined by Ali Sheridan, a committed sustainability and climate action advocate, driving the transition towards a zero-carbon world and supporting business and society in their roles as change agents. Ali has worked in sustainability for over thirteen years across the private, public and NGO sectors in Ireland as well as the UK and Netherlands focusing on sustainability strategy, policy, communication and engagement. She is currently doing a PhD focusing on Sustainability Leadership with Maynooth University.

What did we learn?

Where we're really at with sustainability:

  • Consumption is still going the wrong way. The world consumes 100.6bn tonnes of materials per year. The more eco-friendly behaviours (eg. not travelling frequently by plane) adopted during Covid-19 are not being sustained as countries emerge from lockdowns.
  • There are huge gaps to close in terms of what people are saying (eg. communicating Net Zero targets) and what they are doing right now.
  • There is confidence to be found in the EU’s Green Deal being a way to move forward in how we buy stuff, what we build and how we invest.
  • The action we take now needs to be truly transformative and not just ‘business as usual but a bit greener’.

What's coming down the track:

  • Consumer need for environmental credentials is getting stronger - we’ve already seen an increase in the call-out of brand greenwashing. However, there is still a need to enable green behaviours and create sustainable social norms - we should see brands and businesses start to help ‘choice edit’ and engage audiences in solutions.
  • From a brands and comms perspective there is a labelling revolution on the way (tapping into the importance of transparency and accountability). We’ve started to see the significance of carbon labelling on products - ‘carbon is the new calories.’
  • In terms of reporting and managing carbon impact, scope 3 emissions (from activities not directly owned or controlled by the organisation) will need to be addressed by everyone.
  • We will need to see companies who are committed to Net Zero, updating on their short-term progress towards these longer term goals.
  • We will see a shift from shareholder value and shared value to systems value - where business ‘addresses societal challenges in a holistic way while not hindering the progress toward a flourishing future’.

Leadership Lessons for Success:

“No matter what industry you are in, this is all of our future work. We need to fight to make sure we have a more sustainable future and that can only happen if we do it together. We need spaces like this [Purpose Disruptors] where we can share, reflect, support each other through this… We need to lean in, learn and tool ourselves.”

  • Realise Your Potential Impact: We can all be ‘enablers’ to bring changes into the mainstream. Equally, we can adopt the role of ‘defenders’ and challenge business as usual. Give yourself permission.
  • Leverage Our Strengths for Better: Our industry can do powerful work in helping move away from ‘stock sustainability’ and push the creative beyond lightbulbs and trees to help people imagine living and thriving in more sustainable futures. Equally, challenge the words that we use for impact - even ‘sustainability’ has lost meaning. This can have impact far beyond the comms industry. “We need to really guard and navigate better the messages that we are sending - what messages we are supporting and what behaviour it is that we’re supporting.”
  • Challenge Assumptions: One of the assumptions to challenge is that anger doesn’t motivate. Every conversation about sustainability does not have to be positive and uplifting - this is a tough reality and massive challenge that we are facing. Allowing space for uncomfortable conversation is a part of making change happen. The trick is to meet people where they are at (not everyone needs to hear everything - tailor your information/message).
  • Get off the Fence & Know your Red Lines: Delay is the new denial when it comes to climate and sustainability. Now is the time to identify your own red lines when it comes to your work- who will you not work with or what will you not stand for? 
  • The Allyship Approach: Leadership should be distributed - this is not about one person, we need everyone. The change we need cannot happen with a ‘few great people’ or a few pioneering industries. With this, sharing is part of the process that leads to greater progress and keeps everyone moving together. Collaboration and information sharing helps to influence beyond our own direct circles of influence.

Email Loading... to join the mailing list and get info about upcoming ‘Great Reset Fortnight’. Events coming up in April will work to inspire further industry action and collaboration.

Watch Ali’s full presentation on Leadership for Sustainability by downloading the recording here (skip the 2 mins of tech issues at the beginning!)

*Source: Survey conducted by Behaviour & Attitudes (B&A), 30th July - 12th August 2020, 1,007 respondents – representative sample of Irish public aged 16+.

What can PR people do to support a greener Irish communication sector?

Following the launch of The Great Reset in the UK & Ireland in 2020 a group of public relations and communication professionals in Ireland have been meeting online to discuss the implications of Covid-19 for the Irish communication industry and what the Covid ‘pause’ may present when it comes to more sustainable communication practices.

Sustainability can seem daunting - how can one person, one agency, one comms team make a difference? But small changes can have a big impact. With lockdown measures changing consumer behaviour, now feels like the right moment to examine the positive planet impact the lockdown slow down is having, and look at how the communication community can support and drive continued sustainable change.

What can you do?

The Working Group of agency, in-house and internal communication professionals has identified Ten Tangible Ways whereby public relations and communication professionals can really make an impact when it comes to better practice for the world we live in. Throughout 2021, the Group will be hosting guest speakers, running workshops, attending international online gatherings and sharing information to encourage a more sustainable communications industry.

Want to get involved?

If you would you like to be involved in The Great Reset Irish PR Working Group email Loading.... Supported by the PRII, the group is open to anyone working in or studying communication and public relations in Ireland.

Stay in touch — we’ll update you on the activities of the Great Reset Irish PR Working Group here and in the weekly PRII ezine.  Get started today by reading and reflecting on the Ten Tangible Ways below: -


The Great Reset Irish PR Working Group encourage those in the industry to consider how they can be a part of a greener Irish communication industry and bring effective conversation and change to businesses and organisations.


    1. Businesses need to move towards a more sustainable planet. If you feel your business/client is acting in a way that doesn’t serve the planet - open up the conversations and ask questions. Encourage change and offer to be a part of that change.
    2. Encourage awareness of The Triple Bottom Line: People, Planet and Profit and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
    1. Always question the promotion of a ‘sustainable behaviour’ and evidence to support it. Ask how the sustainable behaviour is being measured? What will the impact be? Is there another practice at the business that might contradict this move?
    1. For agencies: it is worth looking at how you can build in questions about the planet into a briefing template. Ask clients what impact this launch will have on the environment, how it could better the planet, and whether there is a more sustainable approach.
    2. In-house: Ask your agencies about their approach to sustainability and include this as a question when you’re going out to tender.
    3. The Purpose Disruptors in the UK recently launched #ChangeTheBrief which (whilst focused on the advertising industry) unpicks how the briefing process can be adopted for a greener outcome. Read here.
    1. If every organisation had sustainability sorted, we wouldn’t be in the position we’re in today. This is not about finger pointing and blame, it’s about asking questions, and encouraging open dialogue. Even one conversation can start a shift with lasting positive ripple effects. Having an ambition towards becoming more green is powerful, and taking small steps towards that ambition is progress. Don’t underestimate those baby steps.
    2. For management; tell your people about these successes - they’ll feel part of the journey. Make sure to highlight those responsible to recognise their efforts.
    1. Think about using your skills to assist a not-for-profit, charity or business for good, to lobby legislation that encourages a greener planet.
    2. For management; give your people the opportunity to volunteer their skills for a sustainable cause - and consider supporting a sustainable cause as part of your organisation’s corporate social responsibility strategy.
    1. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence to showcase changing behaviours in certain cohorts and powerful growing consumer segments. This can be backed up with specific research, from consumer insights, purchasing behaviour and wider segmental research (eg Forbes, HBR), which illustrates the desire amongst consumers for access to more sustainable products and services.
    2. For management; ask your people what matters to them - and how your business can adapt to be more sustainable. This could be through a quick survey, focus groups or even informal conversations.
    3. Integrate sustainable objectives into your communications strategies from the outset. Adding measureable green goals can guide campaigns and support accountability. It will also allow teams to benchmark their progress. Consider setting objectives such as: to reduce (or eliminate) printed collateral for face-to-face events when they resume; increase web traffic to a brand’s CSR section of their website; or engage and mobilise employees on a sustainability initiative.
    4. New thinking in the area of marketing measurement was launched recently by The Purpose Disruptors in the UK; Eco-Effectiveness. This examines how sustainability measurement can be brought into marketing and communication campaigns.


    1. Use biodegradable materials for media drops and gifts for colleagues and clients
    2. Question sending out media drop or gift items, unless the recipient has confirmed they would like to receive it in advance, to prevent wastage.
    3. Consider using suppliers with sustainable credentials - and buy local where possible.
    1. Question taxis and couriers being used when there are more sustainable options - could you walk or take public transport to meetings? Is there a cycle courier or electric vehicle option in your area?
    2. For management; offer your people incentives to travel sustainably through schemes like Bike to Work and TaxSaver.
    1. One of the benefits of the digitisation of work accelerated by the COVID environment is that there is an opportunity to take more cars off the road and offer staff work-from-home options, either full-time or a hybrid of home and office.
    2. Review or create a flexible working policy that puts your people at the centre of your organisation and supports them to work in ways which suit their needs through the pandemic and into the future.
    1. The world is far smaller when you take it online. When international travel opens up again, question work-related travel.


Laura Wall, Group Account Director (PR & Advocacy) - Thinkhouse, Trudi McDonald, Communications Officer, Fáilte Ireland, Emily Maher, Communications Manager, Deloitte North and South Europe at Deloitte, Laura Greer, Founder, Etch , Communications, Jessica Fok, Senior Consultant, Strategic Communications, Turley, Sharon Edge, Founder, The Purpose Edge, Padraig McKeon, President, PRII, Dr Martina Byrne, Chief Executive, PRII & PRCA

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