Evie Barrett
Jul 17, 2022

PR fights back against greenwashing

Almost every respondent (96%) in a new PRCA study in the UK said they advised their clients and colleagues on the climate crisis, a figure that has jumped 14% in the past year.

PR fights back against greenwashing

This comes as nearly half (45 per cent) of UK PR pros have noticed their clients or organisation seeking to greenwash. While 89 per cent of these attempted to push back on greenwashing, just over half (57 per cent) managed to successfully do so.

PRCA Climate Misinformation Strategy Group representative Laura Sutherland said: “It’s encouraging to see a rise in the number of PR and communication professionals helping their clients and colleagues understand the climate crisis and how they can effectively communicate the part they play. It’s also great that we’re growing in confidence when we spot greenwashing and feel comfortable pushing back.”

Despite the apparent proactive nature of the PR industry, the PRCA’s latest study suggests that clients are yet to adopt the same mindset. Seven in 10 (71 per cent) PR pros thought clients merely jumped on the climate bandwagon, and half believed that their clients were misinformed.

This is hardly a surprising judgement, given that more than half (59 per cent) of PR pros said clients did not measure carbon footprint, and less than a quarter (24 per cent) observed clients setting targets rooted in science.

The requirement for clients to pay more attention to their PR peers can be reinforced by the finding that 71 per cent of consumers thought businesses should step up their climate action, even though consumers are currently split 50/50 when it comes to viewing the climate crisis as an existential threat, according to the PRCA.

Eradicating greenwashing emerges as not only a moral necessity, but also a sensible business one, with results showing that the majority (71 per cent) of consumers would stop buying from a brand if they knew it had misled its customers regarding its environmental impact.

Sutherland added: “We have a responsibility to ensure any unethical communication or attempts are challenged. The call to action to industry is this: be more brave – learn about ESG, learn how to approach a difficult situation with your boss or your client, start setting your own agency targets and communicate the action you’re taking.”

This latest study is the second annual research report from the PRCA Climate Misinformation Strategy Group and Opinium. Together, 226 members of the PR industry and a nationally representative sample of 2,000 UK adults were surveyed.


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