Eco focused copywriting: Hitting the right tone
While writing the copy for this site and our social media posts, I keep bumping up against issues of tone while talking about what we do. Here are some thoughts about keeping things positive.
I want to get across the steps I’ve taken with the business to be more eco focused, as well as encouraging other people to do similar. However it’s really easy to come across as critical, preachy or downright negative. There’s a lot of impact caused by the choices we make on a day to day basis and the more we look at things the more I realise we are all part of ‘the problem’. It’s easy to scapegoat certain groups, corporations or politicians in general but at the end of the day we are the ones voting people in or buying their products. We need to campaign for better corporate and political choices but also makes changes to our own consumption choices to send a message.
So… how to encourage change and show my own efforts without beating people over the head with it?
Suggestions Instead Of Lectures
Despite being furious about the choices some people make (I’m looking at you Range Rover drivers..) the tone I’m going for is more about highlighting a bunch of eco minded tweaks that you might like to check out. This means trying to keep my daily frustrations out of the business communications and keep things positive. There’s already too much trolling and “outrage marketing” wasting our time and energy online and I want Intention’s voice to be a positive alternative.
Extinction Rebellion (XR) put a lot of effort into their marketing, but sadly still annoy most people with their tone and actions. Most people know we’re on the edge of climate disaster but XR irritating people trying to buy petrol or get to work hits wrong on a subconscious level. We know fossil fuels are destroying the planet, but don’t have much choice. All the oil companies are as bad as each other so it doesn’t really matter where they buy it when they just want to get to work or pick their kids up. XR have stopped disruptive actions now so I think they’ve realised that telling people that something is ‘wrong’ is only half the battle. We need constructive suggestions about what to do instead and that’s where I’m hoping to express with my writing.
Persuasion Instead Of Criticising
As soon as we set ourselves up telling people what to do, there’s probably going to be pushback on that just because people don’t like being told what to do. It’s also not for me to be telling anyone what to do as that just comes off as self-righteous. I’ve got some eco-minded suggestions, but am constantly learning more myself and it’s not always as easy as it sounds to choose the more eco-friendly option. For example I’m fortunate enough to not need a car as I don’t have kids and work from home, but lots of people might struggle without a car. I find people who set themselves up as “thought leaders” incredibly pompous so really don’t want to sound like that.
Showing choices through my actions is also a way to get this message across rather than just listing things I believe are harming the environment. For example I use green web hosting and open source tech (where possible), and won’t work with certain companies or if the client turns up to a meeting in a ridiculous 4×4. Someone somewhere planted this sustainability seed in my head some years back, and I’d like to be the person that plants those seeds for others. Change doesn’t come overnight but often grows over time from some original input.
Writing for an audience
I feel the kind of clients I want to work with aren’t going to respond to high pressure marketing, fake sales, “business bullshit bingo” about “circling back to leverage best practices and produce best-in-breed solutions” or the ‘super matey’ tone that many corporates have started using lately. We’re all time stretched small business owners and probably tired of marketing nonsense. I want to get across that I’m a normal(ish) guy that offers well organised, eco friendly web design for other small businesses. No technical waffling or over promising but rather a good looking, fast website that performs well and focuses on what your business is trying to achieve.
Writing positive, eco-focused copy without losing my temper or coming across as preachy is hard. I hope these notes offer some solidarity and ideas if you’re writing for your sustainable business. I’m off out to tut at some 4×4 drivers, see you later.