Nestle vs Greenpeace

March 21, 2010 at 6:37 pm (Public Relations) (, , , , , , )

I was interested in what NGOs can do, to humiliate a brand to influence change of behavior. PRWeek featured this article online, which is a very current example. Greenpeace launched an online PR attack against Nestle because it has been accused of getting palm oil from and Indonesian company that allegedly engages in illegal deforestation.
In the viral video “Give The Orang-Utang A Break Nestle – Greenpeace’s anti Kit-Kat ad” Greenpeace uses quite strong, sometimes graphic images, to demonstrate how this issue threatens wildlife. The video is not the end of the story though. Nestle is having difficulty reacting on Facebook and Twitter as the article reported. Many see responses as a PR trick, which causes even more public outrage.
Kerry Gaffney associate director, from Porter Novelli suggested that there should be some changes made to their response tactics.  She suggested  to change the person behind the Twitter responses to someone more in tune with the corporate tone. She also advised to address the main issues on a Youtube video.

What is missing for me out of all of this, is the lack of emphasis on taking responsibility for the actual problem, or if Nestle is doing something about it than publicize that. As I surfed around on Google, the tops result where from Greenpeace side. They must be doing something Nestle isn’t at this point. It seems to me that the only way out for Nestle is admit their responsibility to get another supplier who is checked. After this is done publicize that they are changing.

Seemingly not trying to make changes just makes matters worse for them. Its bad enough in the current media climate to be connected with damaging the environment, even if this happens by mistake. Not taking fast action  (especially media wise) can do long-term damage to the product and the brand.

Nestlé faces Facebook crisis over Greenpeace rainforest allegations PR Week Online

Give The Orang-Utang A Break Nestle – Greenpeace’s anti Kit-Kat ad

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NGOs for climate change and the environment

March 17, 2010 at 9:58 pm (Public Relations) (, , , , , , )

Today in class we had a guest speaker form the NGO called Friends of the Earth speaking about PR and NGO activities.
Advocacy for environmental causes like climate change and renewable energy became a huge trend. Especially after the famous Al Gore documentary “The Inconvenient Truth”.
For the sake of argument lets not see climate change as something definitely proven by scientists and treated as fact by many people. Looking at it form a PR perspective it is a cause. A cause that some people believe in other don’t, there are debates about it, parties fighting for or against it. It this respect its like any other cause, that succeeded in making it to one of the major topics in our time.

The fact that virtually everyone in modern societies know about climate change, renewable energy and recycling etc shows how big power advocacy can have. They influence public opinion, government and businesses. Nowadays if you are an environmentally conscious person you change elements of your everyday life. For example, ride a bike to work, take your trash to special community bins for recycling. Maybe you are one of those people who look out the window and see a wind farm, or use solar panels on your house.

In the UK for example renewable energy  plans have already materialized into actual working projects.
A whole list of examples can be found on the following website:

UK Wind Energy Database  (UKWED)

People can argue for and against climate change but can’t argue the impact it had on our way of viewing and (often doing) things.  Governments also need to focus some of their resources on environmental issues, because of the combined power of the public, environmental NGOs and pressure groups.
Companies especially the ones operating in more hazardous industries are under extreme scrutiny to do reduce the damage that result in their operation.  Their license to operate, their support and image depend on it.

Of course those who followed the international media are aware that NGOs like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth often attract media attention through a stunt or by making fun of a brand. On the other side as Mr Southworth our guest speaker pointed out, NGOs also negotiate and collaborate with companies. The important thing is to identify the target audience and get them to listen and talk to you. The tactics depend on the individual situation. If a company is willing to be among the first to change their behavior than they can get the support of an NGO. It is a win-win situation.

Definitely it seems like a tough job to be a PR professional in the NGO sector. It puts a wide variety of professional and personal skills to the test. On the other hand working for a good cause has its rewards.

For more info go to:

Greenpeace UK  Website

Friends of the Earth Website

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