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Don’t Make Greening So Hard

In the last 24 hours, I’ve experienced The Tale of Two Communications Philosophies. The contrast between the two drives home, to me, the challenge facing the green industry.

First, a conversation I had with a client — a new business start-up — about its website copy (which I’m writing). Sure, they wanted to let people know what services they offer, but they wanted it to be simple. “You’ve got to talk straight to the business owner,” he said. “Tell them what’s in it for them. Don’t make it complicated. Just tell it straight.”

The result? The copy is short, to the point, and without all the corporate investor-speak that confuses and obscures the message. When I read it, I actually know what they’re talking about. It know how it benefits me.

Contrast that with an email I got from Booz Allen Hamilton on an initiative it calls “Greening the Enterprise.” The goal is to support enterprises’ desire to “lead the organization’s drive to sustainability” and follow “industry best practices” with something called the Green Pulse Check:

Through a short series of questions, the Green Pulse Check creates the precise profile of an organization’s environmental management maturity. A score is assigned to each capability area, along with comments and a recommended action plan . . . Because the Green Pulse Check is both comprehensive and systematic, it can serve as an invaluable road map to a successful sustainability strategy.

Agghghghgh.  What on earth does that mean?

The site is comprehensive. It has a free Greening the Enterprise e-book. There is a Twitterfeed with emerging ideas for sustainability. A self-evaluation survey. Lots of good stuff. But, on the landing page of the website, it’s so obscured in corporate speak that it seems inaccessible and complicated. The only companies that are going to wade through all that are those with someone on staff whose title is “environmental sustainability manager.” Do you have one of those? I sure don’t.

It’s no wonder so few companies have any kind of green strategy.

If we’re going to see mainstreaming of sustainability initiatives, whether businesses are large or small, we’ve got to make them accessible. We’ve got to talk straight, make it seem like something businesses can actually do without completely disrupting their revenue-generating processes. How about websites called “It’s Easy to Go Green”? “Five Steps to Going Green and Saving Money”? You know, things people understand.

Until green is accessible, it’s going to stay a niche. Make it easier. Maybe people will actually DO it.

Written by Heidi Tolliver-Walker

Heidi Tolliver-Walker has been a commercial and digital printing industry analyst, feature writer, columnist, editor, and author for nearly 20 years. She is known for her meticulous research and no-nonsense perspective. In addition to having written thousands of industry articles for top industry publications, she and Richard Romano have been the face of the well-respected industry research firm The Industry Measure (TrendWatch Graphic Arts) for many years. In her more than 13-year tenure with the firm, she has written countless reports on digital printing, 1:1 (personalized) printing, Web-to-print, personalized URLs, and other hot industry applications. She is also a long-time contributing editor and columnist for Printing News, for which she writes two monthly columns, including "Personal Effects," which features monthly analysis of 1:1 (personalized) printing case studies. She is also the author of three titles for the National Association of Printing Leadership: Designer's Printing Companion, Ink & Color: A Printer's Guide, and Diversifying Via Value-Added Services. As a small, niche publisher (Strong Tower Publishing), she is active in utilizing these technologies in her own business, as well.

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