Going green in the world of PR

Green Marketing is a publicly accepted term today. Wikipedia defines it as “Green, environmental and eco-marketing are part of the new marketing approaches which do not just refocus, adjust or enhance existing marketing thinking and practice, but seek to challenge those approaches and provide a substantially different perspective.”

Marketing & Advertising companies around the world are trying to switch to ‘green marketing’ options, right from their packaging to in-house practices. However, is it viable for the companies who create these marketing campaigns – the ad gurus & the PR agencies – to also go green the same way? 

With the advancements in technology, it definitely seems possible. The industry (marketing, advertising & PR) has embraced technology like a long-lost family member. We love email. We breathe email. The days of printing out information and hand-delivering it are gone (yay to saving fuel & energy). We work heavily on cloud. We have conversations on Twitter and WhatsApp instead of long phone conversations, or face-to-face meetings. 

So it should be possible to go heavily green right? 

The PR industry still has an inordinate amount of non-green practices we are destined to follow, at least in India. Though we have switched over to emails and cloud storage, we still print out reams of paper during press conferences and events. The fact that we can never really estimate the exact number of people turning up means we have to print out additional copies of all documents. 

Press releases, brochures, information documents, FAQs and various other things that need to be in the press kit, enclosed in a pretty paper or plastic folder, ideally with the branding of the company. Of course, we are in the tech age, so there is a pen drive that contains all the contents available in print as well. 

As experts in branding, and despite being able to devise great looking campaigns for our clients, certain in-house practices are hard to get rid of. We try often to not print all these documents. After all, it is just a reference point during the event, and the information is emailed to the journalist instantly as well. But there is a large school of people who prefer to have the information in hand, in black and white. 

There’ve been some events that were entirely paperless. I remember a phone launch a few years ago, wherein every attendee was asked to scan a QR Code that logged them into a website with all the required information. Of course, that was a cutting edge event, with tech-savvy people there to look at new technologies, and they loved the whole experience of QR Code and scans. A normal event – you are more likely to get frowns and brickbats. 

These are essential tools of our trade and perhaps can never be done away. But maybe, just maybe, there is a way that we can reduce these with the use of intelligent technology. There are ways to send a message to one’s phone directly when they are in the vicinity. A simple QR code can take you to a website that has all the information needed, and perhaps can even have a little chatbot to help you further.

At a recent event, which was for environment consciousness, we became keenly aware of how we could perhaps have a greener, paperless event – not just in the handouts, but also in the water cups, paper plates, tissues and more. 

As branding specialists, we understand the importance of packaging. But we also need to lead the way to greener practices. After all, we are the experts in making the ‘not normal’ into extremely routine.

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