Three Lessons On Greenpeace’s Persuasive Communication That Every Environmental Organization Should Learn – OpEd


When we talk about environmental organizations, most of us think of one name, Greenpeace. With its unique campaigns, Greenpeace has become one of the most visible organizations in the world. One of the keys to Greenpeace’s success is that every campaign is carried out in a persuasive and creative way.

In Indonesia, Greenpeace is quite aggressive in campaigning for the issue of nature conservation. This is because Indonesia is one of the tropical forest countries with a large number of animals listed as the endangered, of which 10 are endemic to Indonesia. With the actions and values ​​brought by Greenpeace, they have succeeded in winning the hearts of Indonesian people to be involved and supported in every campaign.

Greenpeace has successfully carried out many social campaigns, such as the No Deforestation Policy targeting a private bank which succeeded in pressuring this bank to stop lending to deforestation actors in Indonesia. In fact, the campaign has the support of nearly 500,000 people from all over the world. Greenpeace’s successes should serve as benchmarks for other environmental organizations in carrying out various campaigns and social actions.

While there are dozens of lessons we could take away from these Greenpeace’s persuasive communication, this article wants to highlight three main principles of communication Greenpeace does in Indonesia;

More Personal, More Effective

Greenpeace repeatedly uses personal messages in their campaigns, one of which is the orangutan adoption movement. Instead of using the words “let’s donate” or “let’s help”, they choose to say “let’s adopt” Indonesian orangutans. This method is used by Greenpeace to build a personal relationship between the public and the Orangutans. Those who adopt will receive an adoption certificate in their name and are entitled to regular updates in the form of exclusive videos of the orangutans they adopt.

Another example of personal communication is campaign videos on social media. Greenpeace issued a cartoon video as part of a campaign to destroy orangutan habitat due to the impact of bad governance on oil palm plantations. This cartoon video shows a conversation between a small child and an orangutan who enters his room. After telling the story, it turned out that the little boy knew that the orangutan was running from its habitat that was destroyed due to poor management of oil palm plantations. At the end of the video, the little boy writes a message “Save my friend” in which he considers orangutans not only as animals, but also as close friends who must be protected together.

Greenpeace also supports various environmental conservation initiatives carried out by other groups. The “Earth is Our Home” campaign is an initiative carried out by clothing label brand Sejauh Mata Memandang, a slow fashion concept. According to the National Geographic: The End of The Trash, from 57 percent of waste in Jakarta, around 8.2 percent is textile waste. Understanding this problem, Greenpeace is involved through various discussions with the community. The choice of the word “Earth is Our Home” aims to build a sense of belonging and emotional closeness of the community towards nature conservation personally.

Make the Planet Green in A Fun Way

In addition to carrying out direct protests such as street demonstrations and issuing annual reports, Greenpeace is also campaigning in a fun way. Greenpeace initiated Summer Fest 2.0 in August 2019, in Bali. The festival initiative came from the Celukan Bawang local community. The use of coal has an impact on the livelihoods of fishermen and coconut farmers as well as polluting the sea and polluting Bali’s air. This festival aims to invite young people to popularize the use of renewable energy and end the use of coal through concerts and workshops.

This concert is the first festival in Indonesia where 100% of the electricity comes from renewable energy. To enliven this event, Greenpeace Indonesia invited environmental, artistic and social communities. Environmental community involvement in the delivery of environmental materials and training. Through a creative and fun campaign, Greenpeace managed to attract a very large audience of up to 100 thousand visitors.

Greenpeace triggered the motivational appeal of the local community who wanted to have a peaceful life free from the environmental impacts caused by coal mining activities. In this activity Greenpeace tried to amplify the message conveyed by Greenpeace in line with the hopes of the community. Greenpeace said that to achieve this desire, it must be done together but can also be done in an easy and fun way. Through this activity, Greenpeace also wants to educate local people’s awareness of the importance of transitioning to renewable energy.

People Want to Be A Part of Greater Good

We hate people telling us what to do. According to behavioral health therapist Jane Pernotto Ehrman, psychological reactance is what experts describe as this sensation or impulse to rebel. It’s our brain’s reaction when we believe our freedom is being threatened or that our options are being limited. When rules or restrictions are imposed, this response can make you feel frustrated, worried, or angry.

Understanding this, Greenpeace tries to communicate its campaign by prioritizing persuasive invitations, rather than giving orders. Greenpeace always narrated that contributing in Greenpeace’s social action is part of the greater good for nature conservation.

In the marine debris campaign, Greenpeace managed to carry out the Beach Clean Up and Plastic Brand Audit activities in Pulau Seribu which successfully involved and made many people aware to participate in protecting Indonesia’s oceans from plastic waste. Greenpeace does not give orders not to throw plastic in the sea, but invites the community to be directly involved in volunteer activities. Greenpeace’s marine campaign also supports the fight against the reclamation of Benoa Bay in Bali and the cessation of mining and environmental restoration on Bangka Island. The categories of plastic waste found, including packaging and plastic bottles, still dominate.

The same is also applied in terms of media relations by Greenpeace. A media trip activity, the goal of which is Greenpeace wants to provide direct opportunities for the media to get exclusive broadcasts on their news. Greenpeace also invites journalists to explore the issues being campaigned and see firsthand how the destruction of nature is actually happening. This activity usually lasts for 3 to 5 days in several cities such as Riau, Bali, Bandung, Papua, and Kalimantan.

The three principles of persuasive communication should be implemented by other environmental organizations. With these three communication principles, we are hoping that the issue of environmental conservation can get more attention from the public.

*Kenny Meigar is A Public Relations and Communication Practitioner in Indonesia. Salsabila Firdhausiyah, MA Candidate in Social Development and Welfare Studies at Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *