PR Tips For Green Entrepreneurs

There have been several articles on Public Relations blogs recently about the difficulty of promoting green businesses. In our current climate, thousands of organizations, big and small are trying to go, or appear to go green. Hundreds of websites are devoted to the eco movement; the mainstream media loves a green product story…and they have many from which to choose.

P.R. professionals bemoan this situation.

The point is actually how difficult it has been doing PR, specifically media relations, within the green space. As I told PR Week I’ve never dealt with an industry this tough and this cut throat. Everyone is trying to talk green and it makes it very challenging.

Every entrepreneur knows however, that PR is a fabulous marketing tool. The premier magazine for start-ups, Entrepreneur Magazine, has this to say about P.R.

PR’s importance is changing, according to The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR (HarperBusiness). American marketing strategists Al and Laura Ries argue that public relations has become the most effective way to build a brand. Well-known brands like The Body Shop, PlayStation and Harry Potter spend little on brand-name advertising. The same is true for many entrepreneurial companies.

And so, many eco- entrepreneurs start their advertising spending in the P.R. arena. Typical P.R. which focuses sending press releases to and eliciting media coverage from mainstream media, established newspapers, magazines and broadcast stations (radio and TV) is not necessarily a good choice for eco entrepreneurs. With major companies submitting their own green stories with their big P.R. agencies, your smaller story can get lost in the shuffle.

Instead, eco entrepreneurs might consider focusing on new media.

The interesting stuff for green PR … is happening in the social media and community realm where companies can engage in conversation directly with consumers concerning their green business plans.

To get started:

1. Join your local green business groups and national ones like LOHAS or one that is appropriate for your business.

2. Send your e-mail blasts and press releases to green websites like, of course, Green Options Media but, also Treehugger, and The Green Guide.

3. Start a blog on your site. Engage with your customers on your site. Write compelling posts that answer their questions about your product.

4. Submit your blog posts to popular social bookmarking sites with a green slant: Mind Body Green, Hugg and Care2. Some of the larger social media sites too have begun to focus on green innovations too. Which to join depends on your field and product.

5. Get involved on these sites. Read and submit posts from other blogs. When you find one that seems to fit your customer base, check their reach. If they have significant numbers consider asking to send a sample of your product for review.

6. Read the top Green Blogs . Comment on them, refer to posts you’ve made on your company blog.

7. Write for a green publication. Many green blogs welcome guest contributors. Many are looking for writers with specific green expertise.

8. Become an active member of the green community online. Don’t use it only to promote your product…you’ll experience backlash pretty quickly if the community feels it is being used. Instead write not only about your companies products but also about those things in which you have expertise.

The green movement is growing and major corporations, focused on traditional P.R. tactics are often not present in the social media/community building sphere. That’s where eco-entrepreneurs have an edge. Grassroots tactics, at which entrepreneurs excel work best in this space. Get involved and see exposure for your business grow.

About the Author

Hear Maryanne speak on Social Media for Socially Conscious Brands at Expo East on September 27th! Maryanne Conlin is CPG brand marketer and digital marketing expert, CEO of RedRopes Digital and Partner Digital Strategy, 4GreenPs. A Shorty Award winner for best Green Content on Twitter, she was a member of the IAA team that won the Green Award in 2010 and most recently was a finalist for the PRSA - Los Angeles PRISM awards for social media. She and her team focus on providing strategic marketing direction, custom content for web, mobile and social platforms, social media community management and online promotions and digital advertising solutions for companies in the green, food and Hispanic space. Follow her on Twitter @maryanneconlin
  • Great green social media PR strategy.

    However, traditional media’s effectiveness
    shouldn’t be counted out just yet.

    It takes understanding the news of the
    industry that the green business or
    product will impact, as well how
    it fits into the media moment to
    become well known.

    Beth Mandel
    T&S Partners PR Group

  • Very true, Beth- I agree!

    Your point on “understanding” and how news fits with the media moment is a great one! Traditional media also plays a big role in a good PR plan.

    Thanks for commenting – would love to hear more of your thoughts.

  • Informative PR tips for those of us in green businesses. Another PR tip I’d like to mention is using social media sites like LinkedIn and You Tube. These are two effective mediums to get your message out and inform the masses.

    Eric Reisinger
    Lunterra Green Solutions

  • Having done the PR for an organic/Fair Trade co-operative for 8 years I have to agree with what MC writes.

    I’d also add that another dynamic at work is that the mainstream media is very poor at sorting the wheat from the chaff. That is that they’re consistently suckered (or too lazy or too busy to ask hard questions) when a corporation pitches them with some greenwash for a product or service that is essentially only 1% green (or that presents the company with a green halo when the specific green product or service represents only 1% of their activity).

    By contrast the new media arena has the benefit of the public’s collective knowledge and thousands of eyes & ears and tens of thousands of fingers on the keyboard ready to challenge spin when it pops up.

    For example I saw a blogger on a popular eco-site casually pass on some spin regarding a corporate coffee company and right away his readers were all over it and set the record straight.

    The point is that if you’re the real eco-deal, and can stand up to scrutiny, you’ll probably find the new media a better match for what you’re offering. While the pretenders are being screened out by the better bloggers and by the vigilant readers you’ll steadily stand out more and more as one of the authentic eco-preneurs.

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  • MC, thanks for taking the time to write this. I’m sure eco startups will find it very useful. You make excellent points about how to get involved on the Web, build a name for yourself and engage your audiences. A few things:

    – having worked with both Fortune 500 companies and greentech startups at Text 100, I think it’s partly inaccurate assume that most big companies aren’t applying social media PR strategies. All of my large clients work with green blogs and social networking sites, and several of these companies are advanced in their approach to video, non-traditional announcements/pitches, and community building. That said, most of my clients are technology companies so you’re point probably is valid in several traditional industries where social media hasn’t taken off.
    – it is fundamental and crucially important for startups to understand that they should never “blast” email pitches and press releases to green sites and blogs. I’m sure it’s not what you meant but it’s important for this to be clear to people who don’t understand PR. Blasting news out goes against everything these startups are trying to do. They need to pitch their news to people that they know will be interested in a way that is relevant to that specific site, reporter/blogger and that site’s readership. In many cases if they are applying true social media tactics, a press release may be the wrong way to go. Rather, they could start with a targeted approach and set up a meeting with a blogger who they think will have the most influence online… that person writes, creates buzz, and off you go. Obviously a press release or smart pitch is still immensely important for getting out big news to a wide audience, but it’s important to be flexible.
    – Eco startups should incorporate mainstream media in their outreach. Almost all business publications have reporters partly or fully dedicated to the green beat (Fortune, NYT, WSJ, Wired, BusinessWeek), and these people are always looking for new sources and ideas, especially if your startup has something unique with potential to really impact a market. Some of the biggest green bloggers are also some of the biggest mainstream reporters so you can’t do one without the other… think Todd Woody (GreenWombat and Fortune) or Marc Gunther (author, CNN Money, blogger, Fortune).

  • Yes, I agree with MC. Another barrier for small projects like mine is to get labels and certifications that will foster trust in your offering. Many labeling organizations not only require that you have been in business for many months (6 in fair trade) but also requiere that you have a minimum revenue, which in the case of micro enterprises is very hard to achive, especially if there is no certification to support your claim!

  • Thanks for your comments, David,

    I was really hoping that this post would open up some discussion on PR for green businesses and it has. With both social media and green businesses growing and changing rapidly, this type of ongoing discussion is great.

  • Thanks MC.

    I think it’s also a matter of understanding the story value of a business
    that lends itself to cross-media promotion.

    For example Gigi might raise the question in a release or an article,
    ‘What value is certification and why does it take six months for
    approval?’ Is this a federal certification or determined by individual
    states? Examining the politics that determine this would
    make for interesting reading. And that is exactly the point.

    Suddenly, it becomes an op-ed piece or a feature for the LA
    Times. The very green city of Santa Monica might cover it on
    their public radio station or in a local paper. Then it gets sub-
    mitted to digg and gets discussed online. These are just a few
    of the many possibilities and ways to become known.

    These days, no campaign is complete without incorporating it all–
    because you don’t know where people are consuming their news.

    Beth Mandel
    T&S Partners PR Group

  • Here’s a quick footnote to my last comment MC.

    NBC did a very similar story the morning after
    my previous comment, unbeknownst to me.

    The story continued on MSNBC’s website at:

    Beth Mandel
    T&S Partners PR Group

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  • hi…
    I wanted to know something about the green recycle logo u have put up here. I would like to use this logo for our annual events poster and website because the theme for this year is green IT. I would like to know who is the creator and how to contact him her.

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  • Great discussion everyone.

    My latest campaign,, taught our agency that both traditional and new media are great ways to get the message out to mass consumers quickly.

    The trick? Keep the story interesting. Green doesn’t make the story; the details, challenges, hardships, successes, and personalities all contribute to the story. With these working for you, there’s not that much competition in the end. Give the journalists what they want — challenge, controversy, success, failure, innovation, humor, insipiration and other good elements of story-telling.

    Darren Shuster

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  • Great article, I agree with all your strategies but like Beth feel that traditional media should not be discounted. Building relationships with print journalists via twitter is a great strategy.

  • Thanks for the ideas.

    As resort owners we are in the lookout for a PR company that can get our pure Eco message across and also get through to the correct audience. There are several problems, one … a lot of Green PR companies are merely traditional PR companies with a new website that picks up stray Eco projects like ours. Two … green and Eco have been abused so much by resorts/hotels that it is almost impossible for the real deal to be noticed. I mean the ‘normal’ concrete box resorts that are then given a little bit of bamboo and a yoga platform and are now “Eco resorts”. I don’t mind that per se, it is just that our more ‘pure’ message is lost.

    Please see . We are located on the Nature island of Dominica.