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Sacrificing relevance for integrity

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Sacrificing Relevance For Intergrity

In Edinburgh last weekend, I struck up a conversation with my taxi driver. “Joe Biden’s staying here,” he said. “Which says it all about COP26. It’s no’ exactly green tae commute 50 miles up and doon the M8 tae Glasgow, is it?”

I thought of this as reports landed about Jeff Bezos’s £48m private jet, one of 400 polluting the skies over Glasgow as “green” royals, world leaders and CEOs alike flew in to attend this year’s climate-change conference, each with a private limo to ferry them to their eventual destination. I thought of it again as email after email landed in my inbox, each one with “COP26” in the subject field. Wow, I thought. PRs really are getting behind this. And then I opened them.

One was from a parcel delivery service claiming that shopping online would be a greener way to buy Christmas presents than shopping by car. Another announced the launch of a new ethical and sustainable clothing label. A third rhapsodised about a sustainable water bottle. I could go on. And I will: I was also flogged plant-based burgers, crafting kits, cordless vacuum cleaners, trekking gear and an immersive 3D island.

I use the word “flogged” deliberately, because that’s how it felt; a slew of pitches without much integrity, piggybacking onto a climate conference that happens every year, but has somehow gained more traction after lockdown.

Yes, it’s a PR’s job to be relevant, but at a time when people are more vigilant about greenwashing than ever, perhaps it would be better to sacrifice relevance for integrity?

Just a thought.

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