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A newsletter from Biodiversity Project Spring 2012

t a downtown happy hour, a friend of a coworker asked, “So, what do you do?” He thought he was making simple small talk, but for Biodiversity Project staff, there is no simple answer to that question.

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Biodiversity Project is an environmental communications nonprofit organization. Our mission is to protect and restore our natural resources, but we aren’t dedicated to one resource, animal or place. We help protect and restore land and water resources in North America by helping other environmental organizations communicate their issues to their audiences. Put another way, we are the Mad Men of environmental causes. Advertising executives sell products by understanding their audiences and appealing to their values. From Coke to Chrysler, companies appeal to feelings like our sense of nostalgia (Coca-Cola’s vintage Santa Claus) and national or regional pride (Chrysler’s new tagline is “Imported from Detroit”) to sell products. These values-laden campaigns do not focus on the products as much as they showcase the buyers. Their advertising tugs on our heartstrings and connects with our personal identities.

• A new dad loses his iPhone. Again. Normally it’s not a big deal; he’s lost phones before. But this time the phone has every photo that he has ever taken of his new baby boy. This time it’s not just a phone that’s missing. It’s those photos, those memories. Thank goodness he stored those photos in the iCloud.

WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM

MADMEN

• Life is short. Would we rather spend the precious time that we have left in boring meetings, on treadmills and in traffic? Or would we rather spend that time hiking dunes, building sand castles and splashing with our kids on the beautiful beaches of Pure Michigan? Above all else, these successful (and memorable) ad campaigns connect to us as emotional, nostalgic, sentimental and concerned people—not just consumers. They appeal to the values that we already hold dear. And that’s what Biodiversity Project does for environmental groups and causes. We use unique, values-based messages to encourage targeted groups to take actions or change behaviors.

Both public opinion research and decades of anecdotal examples show that we cannot teach, threaten or scare adults into Like the pioneering Mad Men of the 1960s, adopting lasting behaviors Biodiversity Project staff connect people to that are better for the environment. Instead, we environmental causes by appealing to Consider the following: must show them how the deeply held values. desired behavior fits into • A son comes home for the life they’ve imagined Christmas after being away for a long time. It’s early, so for themselves by appealing to their personal values. his folks aren’t awake yet. He and the kid sister put on a pot of coffee. As soon as his parents smell the Folger’s While we should always conduct audience research for every new campaign, research has revealed some common coffee brewing, they know it’s him and Christmas can begin. continued on page 4


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Creative Campaigns: Choking Hazard

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nglish ivy can choke—and kill—the beautiful trees that give yards and neighborhoods shade and character. What looks like a lovely little green plant can actually strangle trees, accelerate rot, attract mosquitoes and cause mature trees to fall down during storms.

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To combat this pervasive problem in northern Virginia, the TreeStewards and Master Naturalists joined forces with Biodiversity Project to create a public behavior change campaign. Together, we wrote a full proposal for a grant from Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment (ACE). The proposal outlined the need for a region-wide campaign to remove ivy and explained Biodiversity Project’s process for creating one.

“Biodiversity Project provided us with the insight, expertise and guidance to craft an effective, well thought out message and campaign. They helped us clarify our own thinking and provided much needed perspective.” — Nora Palmatier, TreeStewards, and Caroline Hynes, Master Naturalists, on creating the Choking Hazard campaign. With support from ACE, over the course of a few months, we developed a campaign strategy, compelling messages and useable materials to spread the word about ivy. The resulting campaign, called Choking Hazard, targets homeowners with ivycovered, mature trees who have inherited ivy or purposefully planted it in their yards. The TreeStewards and Master Naturalists often hear comments from well-meaning people about ivy’s beauty. Homeowners think the plant is a lovely addition to their landscaping, yet in Virginia it is an invasive species that can actually pose a real threat to landscaping investments. By spreading the word about the dangers of ivy to neighborhood trees, the TreeStewards and Master Naturalists hope to see a great shift in how northern Virginians treat ivy. Because both organizations rely on

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Biodiversity Project Connections

volunteers to reach their goals, it was important to train them on how to implement the campaign and stay on message. Biodiversity Project held two trainings for volunteers in-person in Arlington to walk through the ins and outs of the campaign. The TreeStewards and Master Naturalists are happy to share their materials with other groups working to remove this invasive species in their communities. For more information about the campaign strategy and techniques used in the Choking Hazard campaign, or campaign materials, please contact Rebeca Bell at rbell@biodiverse.org.


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Using Personal Pledges to Change Wasteful Behaviors

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he Great Lakes are a vast—but not limitless—resource. Thirty million people N IC N in the region rely on the lakes O AT IONS C for drinking water, and the demand is growing. That is why water conservation is critical to the health of the Great Lakes and our communities.

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To address the increasing demand for water in the Great Lakes region, Budweiser and Biodiversity Project’s Great Lakes Forever campaign have designed a pilot pledge station project that will capture visitors’ attention as they attend or participate in recreation, sporting and restoration activities near Chicago’s Lake Michigan beaches. By talking to people about Great Lakes water conservation when they are actually near the Great Lakes, we can build a much-needed, on-the-ground citizenfocused water conservation effort. The idea of written commitment is a tried and true social marketing tactic. By writing down a pledge or commitment to take an action or change a behavior, people are much more likely to follow through. After committing on paper, the pledge becomes part of their identity. Not following through can make people feel dishonest or like a hypocrite.

To help people fulfill their pledge, everyone who promised to cut time off their showers received a five minute shower timer that can suction cup to bathroom walls. We will follow-up with those who pledged after the two-week period to gauge how well they stuck to their pledge. The Pledge Station content draws upon what we have learned about regional attitudes and opinions of the Great Lakes from the results of our three Great Lakes public opinion research projects and social marketing strategies. In future years, the Budweiser Great Lakes Forever Pledge Station can be used at established events, like beach clean-ups, to spread the word about the simple actions we can all take to keep our Great Lakes healthy for future generations.

Budweiser and Great Lakes Forever used the tried and true tactic of pledging to get people to commit to adopting an environmentally-friendly behavior. This banner was part of the pledge station at Chicago’s Green Fest in early May.

To test the Great Lakes pledge station and the commitment rate, Biodiversity Project staffed a booth at the May 5-6 Chicago Green Fest at Navy Pier. The Green Fest is an annual showcase of environmentally-friendly products, technologies, local businesses, food and issue groups. Set on Navy Pier, surrounded on three sides by Lake Michigan, Green Fest was a perfect opportunity to test the concept of a water conservation pledge station. To conserve water, we asked participants to take one of two pledges: • Skip shaving for two weeks as part of Budweiser’s Grow One. Save a Million. campaign. The average man uses approximately 5 gallons of water per shave, so not shaving for two weeks would save 70 gallons of water. • Shorten showers by a total of 20 minutes over the next two weeks. The average showerhead uses 2.5 gallons of water per minute, so cutting a total of 20 minutes of shower time over two weeks could save more than 50 gallons of water.

Biodiversity Project Connections

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WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM

MADMEN continued from page 1

values that Americans often hold that can be applied to environmental causes: • Responsibility to care for future generations • Responsibility to family • Personal spirituality and sacredness of nature • Personal fulfillment—activities and aesthetics • Love of country, region or culture • Personal liberty and fairness

Biodiversity Project works on the simple premise that we can persuade audiences to take action to protect the environment by speaking to them with compelling, values-based language, just like advertising agencies do to sell us coffee, phones and vacations. It is great and inspiring work, even if it is hard to explain in one sentence at a happy hour.

By appealing to these values, audiences may feel a personal connection to the behavior change that you seek.

What’s New at Biodiversity Project?

We are pleased to introduce Megan E. Kelly, who joins Biodiversity Project as the new Project Manager. Meg is taking over for Rebecca Dill who has left Biodiversity Project to explore new job and volunteer opportunities. With over ten years of project management experience specializing in land use planning, sensitive resource preservation and land conservation, Meg will facilitate projectbased coalitions and manage short- and long-term programs. Welcome, Meg and best wishes to Rebecca.

Megan E.Kelly

Biodiversity Project’s Great Lakes Forever Program, Alliance for the Great Lakes and Budweiser are teaming up to host a beach clean-up event for Budweiser employees in the Chicago-area. The clean-up is part of a series of events tied to World Environment Day on June 5 and Budweiser’s water conservation and protection efforts.

www.biodiversityproject.org

Staff Jennifer Browning Executive Director jbrowning@biodiverse.org Becky Bell Communications Manager rbell@biodiverse.org

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Biodiversity Project Connections is published by Biodiversity Project. Inquiries should be sent to project@ biodiverse.org.

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Protect Your Local Endangered Species

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Communications to INSPIRE Environmental ACTION

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4507 N. Ravenswood, Suite 106 Chicago, IL 60640 773-754-8900

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Laura Brown Nancy Paraskevopoulos Office Manager 1 Mississippi Campaign lbrown@biodiverse.org Manager nparas@biodiverse.org Megan Kelly Amy Sauer Program Manager mkelly@biodiverse.org Mississippi River Program Manager asauer@biodiverse.org

Chair: Gary Wilson Grimard Wilson Consulting, Inc. Oak Park, IL Vice Chair: Sara Race Commonwealth Edison Evanston, IL Todd Cywinski Imagination Publishing Chicago, IL Kari Lydersen Freelance Journalist and Author Chicago, IL Rey Phillips Santos City of Chicago, Department of Law Chicago, IL John Sentell Lake Forest Open Lands Association Lake County, IL

Biodiversity Project Spring Newsletter  

Biodiversity Project Spring Newsletter

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