Welcome back to the Climate Influence newsletter, where I share insights I've gathered from all sorts of resources to help your strategic mind see new opportunities for YOUR organization. This time we learn from the WNBA's lack of leadership – and see how the players themselves took charge and built their own voices and platforms for the big win. Then, journalist Amanda Ripley writes about why people (her included) stopped reading the news and get her thoughts on how journalism might shift to bring us back to the fold. Finally, The New York Times OpDoc team takes a deep look at the flaws in corporate climate pledges, which should remind us all not to make big public pronouncements of promises we cannot keep.
There's climate influence insight in this WNBA story. It turns out that fans follow individual players and align with their social impact messages directly. Meanwhile, engagement with the WNBA organization itself is lacking. The lesson: Corporations and nonprofits alike should realize that they can build the most influence by elevating and amplifying individual leader's authentic voices. Stakeholders will want to cheer the people on. Do that, and see the whole brand entity win big.
A few years ago, journalist Amanda Ripley stopped reading the news. Her description of why in a recent Washington Post piece rang true: "After my morning reading, I felt so drained that I couldn’t write — or do anything creative. I’d listen to 'Morning Edition' and feel lethargic, unmotivated, and the day had barely begun." She found "there are three simple ingredients that are missing from the news as we know it." Those include: we need hope (helps get us up in the morning); we need a sense of agency; and, we need dignity. If your organization wants to tell stories around its own work in climate, take this to heart. Train your communications team to create messaging that is hopeful, gives readers' agency and treats people like they matter (dignity). The climate influence here lies in the fact that more people will actually read it. When you go to the trouble to put out content and no one reads it, there's zero influence.
I've been loving the OpDoc videos from The New York Times (and, an extra heads up for the new, Lourdes Garcia-Navarro-hosted "First Person" podcast). This week's OpDoc nailed a topic that resonates with most people in the climate action space: can "net zero" corporate climate pledges really do enough in the very short time we have to change course on emissions? The three flaws cited therein: target dates are too far in the future (kicking the can down the road); the pledges come with big caveats; and, the pledges rely on technology that's not yet ready. If a corporation has no intention to live up to the pledges it signs on to, why do they bother? The thing is: they DO have climate influence to leverage, should they choose to live up to that responsibility. Stakeholders are definitely watching.
That's it for this issue. Let me know if you spot stories that could use a "climate influence" audit, and I may include them/thank you in a future issue. Thanks so much for reading, and feel free to follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn for more regular bits and pieces. Please, share this with a colleague or two. See you in approximately two weeks...