Find connection between PR and social media
 

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Greenwashing

It is proved that customers prefer services and products of socially responsible companies. An image of sustainable and eco-friendly brand gives a number of benefits to the company, for example: better and stronger relationships with stakeholders, avoidance of the severity of potential crisis, improvement of bottom line, boost in sales, etc. Therefore many companies try to implement CSR programmes only for the sake of having more ‘green’ image, not backing it up with the real action. Such activities called as ‘greenwashing’ have, however, an opposite effect on customers, who can easily determine if the company is genuine or not and develop a counter-productive perception of a ‘deceiver- company’


                                                                                   (Picture from: Greenertrends.com)

CIPR, which in 2007 published the best practice guidelines to uphold high standards of corporate social responsibility, describes greenwashing as:
"[greenwash] is a term often used when describing environmental sustainability communications that are false or misleading, generally when significantly more money or time has been spent promoting being green, rather than spending resources on environmentally sound practices. This can be portrayed by changing the name, or label, of a product, to give the ‘feeling of nature’, for example putting an image of a forest on a bottle of harmful chemicals. It is also sometimes used to distract from negative practices in other parts of a company’s business.
Greenwash can lead to a reduction in stakeholders’ trust, damaging reputation and investor confidence. Making false or over-the-top claims only strengthens media suspicions about eco-claims, which in turn damages efforts to improve the environment. PR practitioners should never knowingly greenwash and should take responsibility to question client claims if they believe them to be untrue or inaccurate."

Activists against BP's art sponsorship:



In a bunch of the most criticized companies for greenwashing their image is BP. I wonder what do you think of BP’s involvement in art sponsorship? From one hand the big, rich, oil corporation, whose main stakeholders are local communities and governments in areas where it operates, but on the other hand BP has 20 year long record of sponsoring the art, cultural and educational organizations. A genuine activity or greenwashing?

BP is currently searching for a PR agency, which will promote its sponsorships during 2012 Olympic Games. Here is a brief and the presentation I made for that case, as one of our course assignments: 

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