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....
Latest update (16 April 2021):
PURPOSE DISRUPTORS LAUNCH THE GREAT RESET FORTNIGHT WITH ECOFFECTIVENESS METHODOLOGY
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:
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...
THE GREAT RESET WITH PURPOSE DISRUPTORS IRELAND: ALI SHERIDAN ON SUSTAINABILITY LEADERSHIP
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:
What's coming down the track:
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.”
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+.
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: -
TEN TANGIBLE WAYS TO BRING PLANET POSITIVITY TO PR AND COMMUNICATION
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.
CHANGING THE CONVERSATION
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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