Climate change is often in the press, more so now than ever, with global disasters occurring as a result of rising temperatures, and more businesses and organisations trying to steal a slice of the green pie.
Climate communication experience
I’ve worked in climate communication for well over a decade and have learned some very basic tactics which help keep communication engaging, fresh and relevant to the people you’re speaking to.
It was only the other day on LinkedIn that I saw a post by Women in Sustainability Network sharing a brilliant resource – the UNDP’s Climate Dictionary. What a treat to find this resource.
Cutting through the climate chaos
There’s a lot of noise about what businesses, organisations and individuals are doing to help combat the climate crisis. The more often people hear about climate change and the more trusted sources they hear it from, the stronger and more compelling the message is.
Top tips for clear climate change communication:
1. Devise a climate comms strategy
Don’t just start talking about what you’re doing in your business or organisation. Have a strategy and set objectives. Make sure it’s all relating back to your business/organisational plan and please be sure to integrate it across the business.
The usual who, how, where, when and what with questions will help guide you.
We must remember that whoever we speak to, whatever their background, or ‘level’, everyone is a human. If we humanise our language we become more open and relatable.
Have you heard of the framing technique before? It looks to the audiences and asks us to understand them more deeply in order to frame our communication in such a way that is unique to them. Whether it be understanding their community challenges or if economic times are hitting their family hard.
Don’t use corporate speak. Don’t use jargon. When there are big numbers and lots of technical information, you need to consider if that’s important for the audience to know, or if it’s just stroking the corporate ego.
Be more human is always my advice.
3. Make it accessible
Last month the PRCA published updated accessibility guidelines. They have been working hard on this and it’s great to see guidance for helping create more inclusive content and activity. You can read the Accessible Communications Guidelines 2023 here.
In addition to this, I find using the Hemmingway browser (or desktop) app really useful when I’m trying to simplify language and get more concise in developing short or long form copy. It gives pointers in language, sentence construction, tone and voices.
I bet you end up using it every day!
4. Make it action orientated
I read this excellent paragraph on efficacy on a website, rare.org some time ago and I often refer to it when I’m trying to figure out how to get people to be confident in taking action. Yes we can use behavioural science to understand people’s motivations to do, or not do something, but there’s also a bit of psychology involved.
“A key part of making it doable is to give people agency. People with higher self-efficacy (the belief in one’s capacity to take action) or response efficacy (the belief that one’s actions make a difference) are more likely than those with low efficacy (eg those who believe nothing can be done) to take climate action. To build efficacy through communication, point people towards high-impact climate actions they can take as individuals and as part of their communities.
"That said, don’t ask everyone to become an activist right away. A meat-lover is unlikely to become a vegan, cold turkey (pun intended). Meet people where they are and help them take gradual steps."
5. Use trusted ways to engage
Choose your methods wisely. By using trusted routes who talk factually and are seen as experts in climate communication.
The most impactful ‘messengers’ are those who are like that audience. Again, relatable. One who has built up trust over time.
Clear, simple climate change communication
I hope you found my blog useful. I know sometimes some of these tips sound like they are back to basics, but you’d be surprised at how effective going back to basics is when you’re talking about something as complex as climate change.
Through better, clearer and simpler communication around climate change, we can all make a difference.
If you need support in looking at your ESG, sustainability or climate change communication, please email me email@example.com and I’ll be glad to have an initial discussion.