According to Nielsen Online’s “BuzzMetrics,” an analysis of blogger topics, protecting the environment is becoming increasingly important to consumers.
Case in point: Blogging about sustainability grew 50 percent last year compared with the year before.
Though the topic of global warming dominated discussions early in the year, the buzz progressed toward a wider range of “green” issues, including recycling, not using as much packaging material and car pooling, according to the study.
“Consumers are becoming increasingly vocal online about the issue of sustainability,” said Jessica Hogue, research director of Nielsen Online, an arm of the ratings research firm The Nielsen Co.
Nielsen Co., which tracks media ratings, merged with online consumer-generated media tracking firm BuzzMetrics last year.
People are also devoting ample time to pecking away about pollution, toxins and sustainable agriculture, which “reveal an important intersection between personal health and environmental wellness,” she said.
Consumers are looking for practical steps they can take to reduce environmental impacts. But they’re also taking corporations to task , calling aggressive public relations efforts “greenwashing” when they suspect companies of false and misleading statements, or trying to appear “green” when they really aren’t, the study’s findings show.
However, says William Lopez, who heads Alternative Strategies, a local public relations and Web design firm, there are some companies that should be tooting their horns about their Earth-saving ways, but aren’t.
He cites an example of a house-cleaning company that had been using “green” products for almost two years, but never thought those efforts were “PR worthy.”
As the public consciousness grows about environmental issues, Lopez says it has become more important for marketing agencies to keep pace if they want to add “green marketing” to their list of client services.
“From a Web design aspect alone we were contacted by three different clients last month who said they want a ‘green’ section added to their site,” he added.
According to Tom Gable, who heads Gable PR, “People are just becoming more aware of our environment and how we all contribute to it.”
Companies want to appeal to the increased sensitivity about ecology and the environment, but equally important are their “core values and what they stand for,” he said, adding that it amounts to looking at the big picture.
The Nielsen Online analysis points to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. as an example of not taking that perspective when it touted its use of reusable shopping bags. The result was that consumers voiced skepticism because of the company’s history and the negative press coverage it generated regarding labor and health care issues.
Michael Mark, chief executive officer and creative director of NYCA advertising in Encinitas, says that in the “green world,” actions speak louder than words.
“The company must prove their allegiance to the cause with action even more than money,” he said. “The world is cynical. It’s been fooled too many times.”