I’m among a growing number of millennials with a level of mistrust of brands and their online communications and an ability to switch off to this content.
We’ve developed a kind of sixth sense; we can spot ‘spin’ and are aware of guerilla comms tactics infiltrating our social media feeds. Put simply, we’re becoming desensitised to brand messages we don’t believe in.
I also count myself among the many who are seeking purpose-driven workplaces that effect social good – which is what drew me to work with Currie. This year, millennials’ views of businesses’ ethics and motivations took a nosedive, with 83% believing businesses prioritise their bottom line over a commitment to the greater social good. As a founding B Corporation member in Australia, Currie is a dedicated “for-purpose” agency; that is, it works on projects and with clients that seek environmental and social – as well as economic – outcomes to ultimately build a better world.
I imagined this ethically driven PR workplace would be just the antidote for my skepticism.
So it was with surprise that within just a few days of working at Currie, I learned of an entirely new species of dubious tactics: greenwashing. That is, organisations that promote often misleading environmental claims in a bid to wow stakeholders, tempt investors and woo consumers.
Increasing sustainability sells. A 2015 Nielsen poll showed 66% of global consumers are willing to spend more for sustainably and ethically produced goods and services. And not surprisingly, corporate giants are realising the reputational and business benefits of promoting their green credentials.
But as we’ve discussed in the office here, those who have more talk than walk should be warned. From a consumer perspective, trust is the bedrock of any healthy relationship and savvy customers are increasingly scrutinising environmental credentials of brands new and old.
The priority for a sustainability-focused PR agency is partnering with clients that are truly committed to doing the right thing.
Currie tailors communications for credible brands to tell their story as authentically as possible. Clients are encouraged to tell a balanced story, by sharing their sustainability challenges as well as their success. It’s not about dressing up the message to make it something it is not – it’s about employing sustainability communications as an instrument of social change.
During my time with Currie, I’ve learned to embrace my inner cynic. A healthy – and yet constructive – dose of suspicion makes us better, more authentic communicators, which is ultimately how we’ll keep emerging generations listening and engaged.
Freya has been interning with Currie for the past three months. With a background in publishing, she is passionate about meaningful, well-crafted communications and was drawn to Currie for its sustainability agenda and B Corporation values.
Freya will be with Currie for a few more weeks, and we feel more than lucky to have had her on board.