The UK’s smallest bee. The females mainly collect pollen from bellflowers and nest inside woodworm holes in dead wood. The males sleep inside flowers.
Keeping it green while getting you seen
Flourish Marketing is Avallen’s PR partner and they support us in telling our climate-positive, bee-saving story to the world. We choose partners who are purpose-driven, and in the same way that we bank with a planet-positive financial institution, we work with Flourish because we’re aligned on wanting to do a bit of good in the world. In this article, the Flourish team talk a little bit about ethical PR and greenwashing in the industry.
When you work with brands like Avallen, there’s hardly ever a moral conundrum or a reason to consider ethics in your day-to-day work. Because let’s be honest - it’s easy to tell a story when your client does as much good as Avallen does!
That said, all clients are different, and we as PR professionals work to a strict code of ethics that makes sure the public receive accurate, honest information that’s informative and valuable in equal measure. So, how do we do it? Here’s a roundup…
Everyone wants to keep their clients happy, right? And as an appointed PR partner, it is officially our duty to safeguard the reputation of our clients. But it is also our responsibility to champion truth; to only share facts with the public and not be misleading in any way.
There are a few ways we can do this:
· Fact checking: By completing thorough desk research and referencing every fact or statistic stated in a release, we can make sure that only truth is shared in our releases.
· Recognising misleading information: There is a grey area between the truth and lying, but if you’re misleading the reader in any way, it’s still unethical. You don’t necessarily need to state falsehoods to mislead someone, you might exaggerate a benefit, or understate the severity of something, but in both cases if it leaves the reader with an opinion that is unjustified, it’s wrong. Common sense and a sound sense of judgement comes into play here; which makes it all the more important to choose an ethical PR partner.
· Questioning our clients: The best client relationships are built on honesty and openness. And that’s what we seek to build with all our clients. Having a relationship such as this allows us to question and interrogate a brief, put to us by a client. What is the purpose of the PR? Is it justified? Is the messaging accurate or valuable to the general public? For transparency, you need clarity, which you can get from being able to ask questions without fear of rebuttal.
Related to the point of championing truth, is one of the most common current opportunities businesses have to ‘mislead’ the general public – greenwashing.
The issue of Net Zero is huge and everyone is aware of it, but it’s also complicated, specialised, and not everyone fully understands terminologies like offsetting, carbon neutrality, and sustainability. This means there is ample opportunity for the public to be misled.
Knowing that green initiatives give you kudos in the eyes of your customers, some companies may talk about their green credentials to give the impression that they’re credibly sustainable, even if they’re not. But greenwashing isn’t always intentional or deliberate. There are a lot of brands out there who are at the beginning of their ‘green’ journey and have maybe implemented an initiative or two that they want to shout about. If there are still damaging practices going on elsewhere in the business – that can be tricky to navigate.
In these cases, we use our aforementioned common sense – which we have in abundance – to interrogate the brief. We know enough about environmental practices to assess whether a client is justified in releasing an environmental story, or whether it’s better not to talk about it at all, and instead focus on extending that sustainability strategy into all areas of the business.
Acknowledge our responsibilities
PR and journalism sometimes get a bad rep don’t they? Here we are… silver-tongued sleuths weaving spin and rhetoric into seemingly innocent stories and releases. And go back ten years or so and it’s a deservedly bad reputation carved out in the mind of the public by a dishonest and ethical minority.
Our responsibilities are many, but for the purposes of this article, they’re twofold.
First of all, we have a responsibility to the public. Our job, ultimately, is to inform the public and help them make up their minds on topical issues. If PR activity is completed with any other purpose in mind, it can be detrimental to wider democracy – just look at countries where PR activity is relatively unregulated or where government censorship takes place to see how PR relates to an area’s democratic values.
Our second responsibility is to our clients. One of our main goals is to help our clients communicate the good, the bad, the happy, and the sad – with the hope that the positive news stories vastly outweigh the bad. It’s what we do and it’s what we’re paid for. Yes, we need to maximise opportunities to shout about our client’s successes and achievements (especially when they’re doing lots of good like Avallen) but we also need to highlight the importance of honest, transparent communication, especially in times of controversy.
Know your values
As a company, we were founded with the following values embedded into our business: connection, support, friendship, fun and a desire to do a bit of good. And we know there’s a sweet spot between delivering for profit and delivering for good – but we hit that sweet spot almost every time.
For profit, we work with companies who align with our values or who we have a connection with. For good, we donate our time to several small, not for profit businesses, giving them marketing and PR support to spread the word of the wonderful work they do.
We make Flourish a magical place to work; PR is all about people and our people are the best. We listen to each other, help each other, and the work we put out into the world is all the richer for it.
That’s key to our whole approach to be honest; our people. With lovely, sincere people driving your communications strategy, you’ll reap the rewards and never have to worry about it being ethically sound.
For more information on Flourish Marketing and the bee-autiful people that work there, visit Flourish Marketing