Nature Conservancy getting way ahead of the game

Environmental organizations and non-profit organizations are major when it comes to influencing environmental protection and conservancy within the United States. They spend their time and effort into influencing citizens to protect and conserve environments, both through volunteer work and lobbying for laws that will protect America’s natural life. The Nature Conservancy has proven that it knows exactly how to use social media to put itself one step ahead of the U.S. Government, and gradually get their foot in the door little by little.

By using social media, the Nature Conservancy has the ability to influence hundreds of thousands of people. They have over 285,000 Twitter followers, just under 560,000 Facebook likes, and over 7,000 Instagram followers. The Nature Conservancy has the attention of all of these followers. The big question is, how will they keep their attention?

In a case study from PRNews, it is noted that environmental organizations have been losing momentum due to a loss of traditional donors in the past few years, and needed to find the campaign that would gain them the new supporters they desperately need.

The Nature Conservancy found the best way to make a personal connection to the environment to thousands of Americans. In 2011, they created a campaign that revealed information about life saving medicines that originate from coral reefs. These medicines have been used to treat cancer! They made people who might not normally pay any attention to environmental protection, be inclined to support it because of the human health benefits. They spread this campaign through their social media, and gained immense support. The Nature Conservancy has posted videos on YouTube to show this unique connection:

Kerry Crisley, associate director of strategic communications at The Nature Conservancy, shares four tips on creating a story that will resonate with your audience:

1. Meet people where they are: “Everyone appreciates conservation, but that’s not the first thing that comes to mind for people who are busy,” Crisley says. “We considered the earth in terms of how it can improve lives, making the message more personal.”

2. Add a face to the message: “Find a person who exemplifies your story, and get that person on camera,” she says. In TNC’s case, it was Arden O’Connor, a woman battling cancer, who was being treated with a drug derived from coral reefs.

3. When an idea takes off, don’t hesitate to go big: “The videos we made were just the beginning. Media relations, our website and social media all have played a part in getting this message across,” Crisley says.

4. The more evergreen the story the better: “When we find new spokespeople, or if a new drug from coral reefs comes on the market, we’ll have this story to tell once again,” she says.

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Why is this such a successful campaign? Because the Nature Conservancy isn’t sending a one-sided, propagated message. In a study on non-profit’s fostering democracy through social media, it is suggested that the “public relations should ‘provide a voice in the marketplace of ideas, facts, and viewpoints to aid informed [public} debate’.” The organization should persuade, rather than take a propaganda approach. 

If citizens feel that they are not being tricked and betrayed by the information they are being told, they will feel more comfortable to support positive environmental legislation. Citizens want to feel that they were the ones that decided they would support environmental protection, they don’t want to feel that they were brainwashed to do so. If a environmental organization or non-profit can “foster democracy” and become more relatable to citizens who hold voting power, the faster they can make a positive change to environmental legislation.