The recent climate change strike is hot on the global news agenda at the moment. As I scroll through my Facebook feed, the viral video of Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg keeps coming up as so many of my family and friends have shared it on their own respective social media pages.
To say that the global strike movement was a success would be an understatement. While I commend the initiative and completely support the movement, what I was most fascinated by was the impressive communications and PR engine driving the movement on such a big scale and unite millions of people worldwide across 150 countries.
In Australia alone, it is estimated over that 300,000 Australians have gathered at climate change rallies in all eight capital cities as well as 104 other centres, making it one of the largest protest events in the nation's history.
Around 2,500 Australian businesses also showed their support by either closing their doors or allowing their employees time out to join the rallies.
While every global campaign is different, I believe all PR and communications professionals can learn a thing or two from the global climate strike movement.
- Choose a topic that resonates with your audience on a personal level for maximum impact
The global mobilisation around climate change is mostly driven by young people who feel compelled to ring the alarm bell to wake up (and shake) world leaders to take action, but also to raise the urgency about the real impact of climate change on our planet.
The youth takes the climate change issue more seriously because they are the ones who are more likely to be impacted by the rapidly deteriorating extreme weather. It speaks directly to them, to their future, and their future generation. This creates an emotional connection to the topic/cause prompting action, passion and effervescence – which are all important factors that contribute to any successful global campaigns.
- An authentic spokesperson/leader
If there’s one thing that comes across in Greta Thunberg’s countless interviews and appearances, it’s her authenticity. Nobody can question her motives – she’s clearly not in it for fame. She’s in it because she wants to drive change, because she genuinely cares.
Another characteristic of a great leader, is to show up. Every time. With consistency. And Greta Thunberg joins as many climate change rallies around the world as she possibly can, and she’s willing to get up on stage at prominent events and deliver heart-felt speeches, conveying very eloquently everything she believes in.
- It takes a village. Collaboration is key!
Developing a successful global campaign is no easy feat and therefore it is important to leverage our network, connections, partnerships as much as possible and get all the help and support we need to drive the campaign to success.
It’s not surprising that a movement of this scale involved an entire village that worked “behind the scenes”. To date, 140 global creative, PR and advertising agencies have joined the PR firm on the signatory to the Create & Strike commitment of agencies to promote the global climate strike.
Additionally, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets across the world embarked on a special media initiative called Covering Climate Now aimed at enhancing coverage of the climate story.
Under such intense pressure, I assume, and hope, that some form of action pertaining to climate change will result from the UN Climate Action Summit 2019, but will it be enough?
From Sydney to New Delhi, Nairobi to New York, millions of people around the world walked out of school and work on Friday to join the latest protests against the climate crisis.