Climate communications: “extreme statements by environmental activists undermine environmental progress”

Climate communications: “extreme statements by environmental activists undermine environmental progress”

“Climate change is real but it’s not the end of the world. And increasingly extreme statements by activists undermine environmental progress, say climate scientists.” – another post in our continuing look at poorly done climate communications tactics that are leading many to ignore the climate topic altogether.

Climate communication: A PR stunt backfires and leads to skepticism on climate issues

Climate communication: A PR stunt backfires and leads to skepticism on climate issues

PR stunts tend to backfire when they are hypocritical. Greta Thunberg sailed on a donated, crewed, luxury yacht to North America to avoid the CO2 emissions of air travel. But at least two (and likely 4) crew members crossed the Atlantic by air to support her effort. In her current crossing by a crewed, luxury yacht back to Europe, another crew member was flown across the Atlantic. Her travel by luxury yachts has produced significantly more CO2 than if she had simply flown herself. When this information becomes public, the climate message gets lost and viewed as hypocritical (which it is).

Journalism: Newsweek had to recall 125,000 printed copies of its pre-written news “Madam President Special Commemorative Edition” in 2016

Journalism: Newsweek had to recall 125,000 printed copies of its pre-written news “Madam President Special Commemorative Edition” in 2016

In 2016, Newsweek recalled 125,000 copies of this cover, which had been distributed nationwide. You can find copies today on Amazon or EBay. Newsweek blamed a subcontractor saying they had printed two separate editions in order to be prepared but their vendor shipped the wrong one. Newsweek has a history of publishing creative pre-written news stories rather than reporting on events after they have occurred.

Journalism: Newsweek reporter admits making up story, but keeps her job

Journalism: Newsweek reporter admits making up story, but keeps her job

Newsweek reporter caught having manufactured a fictional news report, then calls it an “honest mistake” and keeps her job. Newsweek has a history of publishing fiction stories masquerading as actual news. This is not how to inspire confidence in the news media. (Update: Newsweek confirmed the report about what Trump did on Thanksgiving was written during the week prior to Thanksgiving. The reporter has been fired and the editor has been demoted.)

Climate communications: Branding expert recommends ever more frightening and scary propaganda terminology on climate

Climate communications: Branding expert recommends ever more frightening and scary propaganda terminology on climate

A branding expert says climate communications must adopt even scarier sounding propaganda terminology, not based on the actual science, in order to frighten people in to taking action. He proposes terminology such as Global Meltdown or Scorched Earth, neither of which is accurate. He’s advocating the use of lies to persuade targets to adopt an agenda. This approach, however, is likely to backfire and turn people away from even listening to climate communications.

Journalism: “Fears of economic recession could derail the holiday shopping season – MarketWatch”

Journalism: “Fears of economic recession could derail the holiday shopping season – MarketWatch”

The headline comes from a survey finding consumers are concerned about a future recession. Public opinion polls, particularly when asking people to express an opinion on subjects of which they have neither expert nor first hand knowledge, are primarily measuring the effectiveness of prior propaganda messaging. In this example, 2019 has been filled with a stream of news reports predicting a recession. In fact, these predictions have been underway for years. And they have been wrong – particularly since no one has demonstrated any skill in accurately forecasting future recessions. But they are effective at shaping public opinion, which could result in consumers changing their behavior in ways that reduce economic activity.


The headline story is itself followed by a sequence of upbeat economic news. In fact, 2019 holiday sales are running 15% above the prior year, to date.