5 Sectors That Need Green PR & Public Affairs

Alex Wray

Account Manager

As the economy transitions to a sustainable future, all sectors must communicate how they are dealing with the challenge of climate change. The shift to net zero emissions will present enormous opportunities and difficulties. Public relations and public affairs support, including media relations, stakeholder engagement, and effective messaging, will be critical to ensure that organisations are well-positioned to succeed. This blog looks at five sectors that will most benefit from effective environmental PR and public affairs engagement.

1) Renewable energy

Great Britain’s route to emissions reduction has involved a rapid restructure of resources. Coal, the great driving force of the Industrial Revolution has all but gone, replaced by renewables such as wind and solar which now make up 39% of overall generation capacity. However, the sector still faces hurdles in ensuring it receives enough political support and community backing to advance at pace.

The new Energy Security Strategy demonstrated how the roll out of renewables has become a political football. Community support is not guaranteed on projects, and can result in political delay. Despite being a cheap and quick way to reduce our demand for oil and gas, onshore wind is a controversial omission from the Government’s strategy. Conservatives are divided on increasing output, with some fearing a backlash from constituents if they vote to relax planning laws. Skilled public affairs and PR support is needed to build momentum in Westminster, but also to shift the reputation of onshore wind, and its demand, among voters.

2) Food

The food system faces a particularly large challenge when it comes to tackling climate change. Our domestic agricultural production is responsible for 20% of the UK’s greenhouse gas output, and this excludes additional emissions generated overseas from food we import and consume. The recently published National Food Strategy highlights the negative environmental impact on the industry and reform is high up on the Government’s agenda. This provides ample opportunity for companies to shape the UK’s food agenda.

The sector is also in unique position to help consumers reduce their own carbon footprints. Businesses that better communicate and support their customers on their own sustainability journeys will benefit from increased consumer trust, increased market share, and improved influence with Government. An effective public relations programme will be vital to ensure companies seize these opportunities and ensure they are communicating effectively with stakeholders.

3) Horticulture

Horticulture is a growing industry; as more and more plants rise from pots across the UK, the value of the sector increases. It is estimated that by 2030 the industry will be worth a staggering £42 billion. Despite this, the sector feels overshadowed by agriculture, and horticulturalists are often viewed as pursuing a hobby rather than an occupation. There is a tremendous opportunity for public relations experts to change this perception, and redefine horticulture as an integral British industry.

A thriving horticulture sector is required for the UK to achieve net zero, and can also provide other benefits to biodiversity, regional inequality, and mental health. To unlock this potential, the sector must forge a close relationship with the Government. Public affairs support can help the industry engage ministers on key issues such as export legislation, disease control and investment in alternatives to peat. The introduction of these measures could mark the expansion of a booming business.

4) Transportation

Few industries face a more daunting decarbonisation journey than transportation. While vehicles vary wildly in shape and size, all share a long-held reliance on hydrocarbons to power their engines. The sector accounted for 27% of UK emissions in 2019, with road vehicles comprising 91% of this total. Electric vehicles are the future in this area and are a key focus in the Government’s net zero agenda. Effective communications will be vital in encouraging consumers to change their behaviour. So too will be working effectively with Government to ensure the correct infrastructure is in place.

5) The Third Sector

Hundreds of charities are launching annually in the sustainability sector, offering valuable skills, services and support in a variety of settings. From protecting biodiversity to planting trees, some play a vital role in protecting the natural environment. Others focus on the human world, with charities leading developments in recycling and waste to ensure the UK adopts a circular economy.

In this crowded environment, it is vital that organisations make their voices heard, raise awareness of their work, and secure the funding they need to operate. With diminished financial resources compared to corporate businesses, charities must ensure they have a strong and engaging narrative that highlights the value they deliver. Public relations can maximise the exposure charities receive in media outlets, and ensure they communicate to audiences that matter.

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