Conservation communication – show your love (feat. Gotye and Futerra)

Last weekend I ran a workshop for the VINE (Values in the Natural Environment) Project, a small and rather lovely organisation, on communicating conservation messages to the wider public. Specifically, how we could do it better.

I played this at the start to remind us all, what we seem to be getting wrong.  Thanks to Gotye for this. (The workshop did not have the deeply unsettling images. If they do your head in (as they do mine) just listen to the words.)

Apathy, fear and denial. That’s where the not-working-very-well-at-all conservation communication gets us.

There is another way. Futerra, the sustainability communications agency, who I think are totally stellar, set it out plain and simple in their report Branding Biodiversity which you can download here – I recommend you do.

There is lots of great stuff in this short easy-to-read document but the nub of it is that if we want to communicate about conserving nature we need to remind people how much they LOVE  it, NOT how much of it we’ve LOST. Then we tell them how to put their LOVE into ACTION.

LOVE messages, not LOSS messages

LOVE messages plus ACTION

I think it is brilliant. I especially love that the people at Futerra did the work not because someone asked them to but because they felt was needed. Love to them for that.

I love it too because every low-paid, hard-working, loving and hopelessly and completely dedicated environmental educator I have ever worked with or met will now be looking up from their pond-dipping net, or woodland creature mask-making activity and saying “Oh Susan, Is that it? Is that all? I have known that for, like EVER”.   Yes, you have.

But the people who work with adults, or who put their comms into words so often forget it. Or maybe they never ever knew it. Or maybe working in science and conservation squeezed the love,  joy and wonder out of them, or at least pushed it back to dark, quiet corner of their mind.  (If you fall into that final category, you might very well like VINE.)

It takes about 20 mins to read Branding Biodiversity  –  if you work in environmental communications, do it.

This week I have been writing panels for the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust who are rising to the ‘Love not Loss’ challenge.  It is exciting and I think it could be brilliant.

NOTE:  There will more in depth stuff on this and other things on our new training course “What makes nature and wildlife interpretation special?”.  This is now ready for in-house clients (at an introductory rate until the end of 2012).  We are looking for suitable venues for running an open course for up to 30 people in 2013 – ideas welcome. If you would be interested in hosting or attending such a course,  contact us at

All pictures thanks to Peter Phillipson. For more go to Peter’s Flickr stream. Follow Peter @ TellTalePeter on Twitter.


About susancrosstelltale

Great visits to heritage and natural sites do not happen by accident. This blog is about the work that make special sites great places to visit. I hope it will be useful to visitors and host alike. Find out more at me and my blog.
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