With readers often time-poor and conflicted by a vast amount of information, the panel talked about ways positive sustainability can be communicated effectively
Chaired by Karin Seymour, News UK’s general manager, client strategy, the panel was joined by The Sun’s environment correspondent Natasha Clark and The Times’ science editor Tom Whipple.
When asked about how to make talking about the environment ‘sexy’, Clark was quick to point out that readers were already interested in reading about climate climate despite the sense of complexity that the issue can create.
“We know that [the climate] is something [readers] are more and more interested in”, she said. “We know that they’ve been saying to us for the past few months and years that… the environment is an issue they care more and more about… It’s why we launched our Green Team campaign.”
Going onto discuss how The Sun is speaking to readers about the climate, Clark said: “It’s not just a political issue anymore, it’s definitely more of a consumer issue.”
She went on to say although many Sun “readers are still at the stage where they’re learning about the environment”, the “pester power” of more and more people learning about the environment, talking about it and wanting action to be done shows climate crisis content is relevant to readers’ everyday lives.
From the perspective of The Times, Whipple responded: “We’re there to report the facts. The supplements’ approach… was very much to go into things deeper rather than having the continual reactive news stories. It was about the idea that the readers would read them and at the end feel better briefed.”
“I think putting it into context for readers and trying to give them a long view is what seems to work”, he said.
When it came to how businesses speak to consumers about sustainability, both agreed that striking a genuine connection with audiences was extremely important. “I think tokenism does come out”, said Whipple, later adding: “[Becoming sustainable] is the right thing to do, so why the hell not just get ahead of it and get planning now so it doesn’t overtake them… I suspect these are the companies that can do quite well out of it.”
Both Whipple and Clark were impressed by Morrison’s response to the climate crisis, with Clark saying: “Morrison’s [has] that sort of family branding and that sort of close-knit community… All of the little things they’re doing [don’t] feel like they’re doing it because they have to. It feels like they’re doing it because it’s something they want to do rather than specifically because they feel like they’re being pushed into a direction that they should do.”