If your business has been pursuing an environmental public relations strategy, chances are you’ve heard the term “greenwashing.”
A company can be accused of greenwashing when it misleads or overstates its sustainability efforts. For example, a leading laundry detergent brand recently was forced to change its messaging when consumers discovered that a product marketed as “plant-based” was not as “plant-based” as the manufacturer claimed. Marketing messages touted the “plant-based cleaning power” of the detergent when a quarter of the product’s ingredients were not plant-based at all.
Other times, companies engage in greenwashing less insidiously by promoting environmental efforts that amount to little more than empty promises.
While greenwashing is a devastating environmental public relations mistake, a company can damage its public perception just as severely by underreporting its efforts at sustainability. This PR blunder has become known as “greenhushing,” and it’s often an overreaction as businesses try to avoid the negative consequences of a greenwashing backlash.
Of course, your business wants to avoid the public relations nightmare of deliberately misleading customers about green initiatives. And sometimes businesses worry that if they aren’t doing everything perfectly, their environmental success story may come off as greenwashing. Unfortunately, some companies have become so afraid of a backlash they simply stay quiet on environmental issues.
Greenhushing may indeed help companies avoid a backlash, but its negative impact can be even more harmful in the long run. Not only does greenhushing prevent a business from sharing its story, but it also sets back the environmental cause by keeping vital, positive stories away from the public eye.
The truth is that customers are more and more concerned about the environmental impact of the products and services they use. They want to see their favorite brands and companies at the forefront of protecting the environment. If your business is doing something positive to help conserve natural resources or reduce carbon emissions, you need to tell that story. Plus, your environmental work can amplify the work of others.
The bottom line is you need a public relations strategy that promotes your genuine efforts to create a green, sustainable business without overstating your accomplishments or failing to talk about them all.
An environmental public relations agency like Orange Orchard PR can help you tell your story well. We have decades of combined expertise and experience in sharing what our clients are doing to protect the environment, conserve natural resources, or combat climate change. Let us guide you through the process of sharing your environmental success story and avoiding the extremes of greenwashing and greenhushing. Give us a call at (865) 977-1973 today.