Greenwash

November 26, 2008

Greenwash

Interesting tidbit. It would be hard to ignore the influence of CSR or CR (depending on which term you like to use) on corporate reputation. The two go hand-in-hand today and will continue to regardless of the economic slowdown. Companies cannot afford abandon their responsibilities to communities and the environment while they wait for share prices to sort themselves out. However, we can all expect  a tightening of the funds that have supported CR (my preferred term)  programs as 2008 ends and 2009 appears (not soon enough!).  While having a discussion about CR in the office on Monday, I recalled a fact we had uncovered and probably used in a presentation over the past year. We looked at whether there has been an increase in the term “greenwash” or “greenwashing” over the past several years. I do not recall the term being widely used years ago. One of my first recalls of its usage or something close to it was in a speech by BP’s former chairman and CEO Lord John Browne. At one point, I can safely say that I had read every single speech of his since I found his “thought leadership” compelling.  He often made a statement about BP’s global climate change initiatives not being spin or “pr” and he used some sort of “green” term.Back to the interesting tidbit. In the quick research we did at Weber Shandwick, we learned that the term “greenwashing” increased 993% since year 2000 in the global top-tier media. Whereas “greenwashing” appeared less than 50 times in the global media in 2000, it has soared ever since. It’s that viral influence working again….

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross
lesliegainesross@gmail.com

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of corporate and CEO reputations.

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