Promoting Carbon Reduction on the Radio

I am quite excited today as I have my first meeting with the creative team from Central FM, who we are using to broadcast radio ads throughout 2011-2012 to promote various team activities. One of the activities selected for the ads is the Low Carbon Alliance, so we have to create a 30 second promotion to entice businesses in Stirling to join us.

I clearly think there are many benefits to getting involved, otherwise I wouldn’t have set it up! However, it’s not easy to summarise the benefits in just 30 seconds and it’s even more tricky to do so in such a way that businesses pick up the phone and give us a call or visit our website.

The other conundrum is that we are currently trying to avoid “extrinsic” marketing techniques in all our activities. This means we don’t want to appeal to people’s selfish or materialistic side when encouraging them to act in the best interests of the environment. Studies show that extrinsic marketing (e.g. “cut food waste and save £400”) might work in the short-term but isn’t necessarily effective for establishing new social norms over a longer period. For that to happen people have to believe that what they are doing is both the right and proper thing to do.

That’s not to say we can’t feel good about the cost savings from cutting energy, fuel or waste, just that it shouldn’t be our only reason for doing it if we want it to become normal behaviour. After all, in three years time you might be in a better paid job and not care so much about your electricity bill. Will you start leaving lights on again? Unless you really believe in the benefits of cutting energy use, the answer is quite possibly yes.

I think there are “intrinsic” benefits to caring for the environment and most of these come from improvements in our relationships with other people within society. It has been shown that people would rather work for a business that cares about the environment. Other businesses would rather work with a business that care about the environment. Customers/clients would rather buy products and services from a business that care about the environment. Most business owners and managers would rather be a business that cares about the environment.

So what’s stopping businesses doing things to improve their environmental performance? Is it inertia? Cost barriers? Lack of knowledge? The truth is it is probably a mixture of these?

The purpose of our environmental network is to lower and remove such barriers to foster a shared belief in the need to do the right thing, and to empower businesses to make the right decision.

I’m still not entirely sure how to translate this to radio, but hopefully Central FM will! I’ll update once we decide what approach to take.

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