LONG READ: What links PR awards, Greta Thunberg’s climate strike, going carbon neutral and a crowdfunder you can get behind?


It’s awards season and a chance for the great and the good to nominate themselves for awards.

Sure, there’s a place for awards and I helped co-found some. Good luck to you if you’re entering and a genuine ‘well done’ if you are successful.

But the one campaign that may end up making the most difference won’t win a PR award because there’s no agency or team behind it.

The campaign in question was started by Greta Thunberg  who protested alone with a sign outside the Swedish parliament. Her idea was simple: ‘We’re not doing enough to save the planet. ‘ Her call to action is to act. Her output is simply if humanity act fast enough to stop irreversible climate change. Simple. And people bought into it. Most of all school children.

Her ideas initially spread by her social media and then to local journalists and then further afield. It’s a pattern exactly predicted back when there was a feeling social media could save the world.

The attacks from grown-ups with things to lose have been predictable. The underlying tone… Who is this teenager telling us what to do? But such pony and trap attacks have felt dated and serve to reinforce the lines between the heroes and villains.

Seeing the campaign I couldn’t help recall some lines from the book ‘Trust Me PR is Dead‘ by Robert Philips:

“It is not about loudhailer broadcasting or ‘managing the message’ anymore. Shrill press releases are irrelevant in a world that sees through obfuscation and deceit. Building advocacy and activism from within networks is the way forward. The voices of regular people need to be heard.”

Aside from that, I can’t help but be impressed that a 15-year-old has called ‘bullshit’ on everyone older than her, every world government, convention, the entire PR industry and the whole of capitalism.

And then when she gets to the UN and is allowed to speak to the grown-ups she calls bullshit on them, too.

You can watch her four minute speech here:

There is some great work by government, NHS, police, fire, ambulance and council but none has been better than this Swedish teenager.

What changes can I make in how I work?

I’m human. I’m a Dad. I forget to take plastic bags to the supermarket of a weekend. I like the idea of saving the planet but I quite like chicken and driving to Ludlow for a day out with my family.

But I do spend a lot of time travelling across the country. Over the last 12-months or so I’ve been to Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Carlisle, Sunderland, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Middlesborough, Leeds, York, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, Bootle, Wilmslow, Cardiff, Birmingham, Stafford, Bristol, Exeter, St Austell, Plymouth, Southampton, London, Maidstone and Brighton. Sometimes on multiple occasions.

That’s a lot of miles.

So, here’s a pledge.

I will be carbon neutral in my work in 2019 and 2020 too.

But how?

Nat and Julia’s story

This is where Nat and Julia Higginbottom come into the story.

I first met the two of them maybe a decade ago. At first, they were names on Twitter who became names in real life at events and gatherings I was going to. They’ve been supportive of commscamp and other things and have lent help and support.

This year, after a lot of research and planning they decided to do something about the climate question.

They’ve moved home from Birmingham to become crofters on the isle of Lewis off the west coast of Scotland. There, this autumn they will plant 1,000 trees while working with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and repairing fences and other things.

They have bigger plans and they launched a crowdfunder to achieve this.


What changes can you make?

So, to help me be carbon neutral I’ve chipped in a chunk of money to Nat and Julia’s crowdfunder.

If you want to do something, absolutely re-cycle, re-use and all that. You can join me to help Nat and Julia’s crowdfunder before you scroll down.

What can you do?

As a communicator, you can speak truth to power.

You can also learn from the climate strike campaign. How can you enlist the help of real people in what you are trying to do?

And you can maybe put the money for your next awards entry fee somewhere greener, for one.

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