In our webinar, ‘Much Ado About Greenhushing’, Man Bites Dog’s Divisional Director, Duncan Sparke, and Associate Director, Sean Farrance-White, were joined by industry experts Miles Lockwood, from the Advertising Standards Authority, and John Batten, from Arcadis. The session covered how communicators can navigate the thin green line of sustainable messaging and authentically articulate their organisation’s perspective on the sustainable transition using data-backed thought leadership. To catch up on the webinar, watch the recording below.
The panel discussed the concepts of greenwashing and greenhushing and the implications of both on businesses and, ultimately, sustainable progress. While greenwashing often steals the spotlight, greenhushing poses a formidable and often understated challenge. Greenhushing presents a direct threat to progress by impacting an organisation’s ability to collaborate and communicate effectively.
Our session also explored the dangers in diluting the debate down into just an option between greenwashing vs. greenhushing. This simplistic approach reduces the choice in marketing strategies to either bombastic and untrue claims or complete silence. The focus, rather, should shift toward creating accurate messaging that authentically mirrors a company’s true sustainability efforts. While businesses in high-carbon sectors should be cautious, the solution for most industries is straightforward: keep your communications honest, limited, simplified, qualified, and authentic.
The examples provided during the webinar helped to illustrate the difference between exaggerated claims and more considered messaging; this balance helps consumers make more informed choices and allows businesses to have confidence in their messaging.
This can be achieved by following the below core principles:
· Make sure what you say is interesting and meaningful.
· Back up what you say with data.
· Ensure what you say is relevant to your business and your sector.
An example of a sustainability thought leadership campaign that successfully followed these principles is Arcadis’ Sustainable Cities Index. This annual campaign is built on new, credible, and substantial data that pushes forward the urban sustainability debate.
During the Q&A session, several critical topics were addressed such as:
· The influence of data-backed campaigns on organisations and their internal ambitions and enthusiasm.
· How to keep data fresh in an ever-evolving landscape.
· The challenges of carbon offsetting and carbon neutrality claims.
· The possibility of businesses moving closer to academics in their future thought leadership.
· How data-backed campaigns can inform wider communication strategies.
The webinar highlighted the critical role of accurate, data-backed sustainability communication in combating greenwashing and greenhushing. In an era where sustainability is a shared responsibility, the panel revealed that credibility, honesty, and data-driven insights are the keys to driving positive change.
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