This week, Massey Media announces it is a Live Green Spot. It is a great moment for Massey Media, for Live Green members, and for environmentalism. This certification is testament to the fact that one can run green, socially responsible businesses and, despite many myths, still be successful.
But then that got me thinking… I had never heard of green PR! I knew a restaurant could be green and a yoga studio could be green, but I wasn’t exactly sure how a PR company — even one run by some of DC’s most fabulous media specialists — could be green. After 10 weeks of interning with Sarah and Lacy at Massey Media, I was truly beginning to understand what went into making a successful PR campaign, how much time and effort was required for this job and furthermore, how Massey Media functioned. All that said, I still couldn’t quite figure out what green PR was; I knew some research was in order.
In doing my research, I found a number of websites had specific thoughts on green PR; most of them agreed that it had to do with what kind of paper one used and which environmental organizations they worked with. For example, if fifty percent of their clients were people working in the environmental movement, they could be considered as green. A few other websites put forth the idea that green PR had more to do workplace practices and habits.
While I thought all of those were valid ideas and thoughts on what green PR was, I can’t say I felt quite satisfied by those explanations. Something about them seemed a bit superficial to me. I mean, don’t get me wrong: anything, big or small, that is done for the environment is fantastic, but I suppose I was expecting something else, something more substantial. Needless to say, I didn’t quite find the answers I was looking for on the interwebs.
So with that, I decided to look internally: I knew both Sarah and Lacy were vegetarians, I knew they both didn’t own cars and rode their bikes to work and I knew they both were very passionate about the environmentalism. When it comes to working with clients, they are truly about empowerment, they share the tools of good PR so that others may benefit. They regularly give workshops to young people and off free talks about how to do PR for social change. Furthermore, rather than having their own private office space, they decided the company headquarters would be at the Affinity Lab, an shared-spaced business cooperative in which many businesses share bathrooms, kitchens, copier and fax machines, desks, and conference rooms. This was truly the epitome of green business practices.
After I processed all of that information, I came to the conclusion that green PR was really more about intention and practice rather than about the kind of paper one uses or what percent of your clients are environmental. Mind you, Massey Media does most things electronically and thereby saves many trees, but Sarah and Lacy go a few steps further. They bike to work everyday (Lacy even bikes in the winter months!), their eating habits are green and environmentally friendly, their homes (and personal lifestyles) are green. Most importantly, they have a strong intention to promote and support like-minded environmental activists and organizations.
To me, Massey Media is the epitome of green PR; not only do they use and incorporate green practices while at work, the try and succeed at incorporating those practices and fundamentals in their personal lives as well. Green PR is about being an active part of the environmental movement, checking in at home to make sure you’re living green, and supporting the movement to grab more headlines and attention. In this way, the intention of the PR work is always about empowerment both for the clients and the company. Ultimately, it’s about shifting the media landscape to move to a place of featuring the good work to make the world a healthier place for all of us.
(Here is an Afro American story that illustrates it all: http://www.afro.com/sections/news/washington/story.htm?storyid=2120)
- Hilary Allen