Almost every day I am reminded of being a good environmental steward. Public service announcements have President Obama encouraging home energy efficiency from the oval office. News articles tout the value of water conservation. In my local community, I can place my recyclable glass, plastic, and aluminum cans for weekly curbside pickup. Since this is voluntary in my community, I really feel like feel good to know that I am doing my part in preserving life on earth.
However, various studies have shown that most utilities have a long way to go on educating consumers about smart energy and water management. Furthermore, I notice that very few of the neighbors in my suburban development recycle. Surely, many of my educated and professional neighbors should understand the value sustaining our planet.
The fact is that this entire “green” movement is still abstract to the average person, and it does not resonate to most of us in a way that is immediately personal. As I engage people on topics of the environment, it has occurred to me that I spend most of the time simplifying the message for people. At that point, I get the “now I get it” response.
Messaging and strategic communication are critical. Government entities, utilities, and major community stakeholders have to simplify the message. We are told to get ready for the Smart Grid or to reduce our carbon footprint. If we are to really prompt public behavior modification, then we have to put an end to the esoteric jargon. This necessitates effective public relations and strategic communication planning. When my 93-year-old grandmother understands exactly how reducing her carbon footprint can require less of her fixed income, now we are onto something.
Todd Q. Adams is Visibilty Marketing’s Chief of Sustainability & Innovation