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What is “environmental communication?”
"Environmental Communications pertains to any profession which communicates an environmental or scientific message. This message can range from conservation of resources to promotion of products to education about community programs and anywhere in between, and environmental communications professionals are working in every sector of the economy from the largest corporations to the smallest newspapers. The field is becoming more and more important as the stakes have become greater and greater and the tools for communicating become more diverse. Corporations, government agencies, and conservation organizations all compete for public support, and the art of "spinning" complex and often conflicting environmental information for public consumption has become a sophisticated profession. Effective communication of an environmental message can determine the fate of an environmental campaign at any level - local, regional, national or global."
-from the website http://www.enviroeducation.com/majors-programs/env-comm.html, 2/4/04
What do those in environmental communication do?
- Communicate the importance of conservation to the public, governmental agencies, and private corporations
- Communicate your agency’s commitment to good environmental stewardship
- Persuade others of the need for compliance with environmental regulations
- Communicate with the media about environmental issues
- Write speeches
- Help sell environmentally-safe products
What types of organizations hire for environmental communication?
- Nonprofit conservation and advocacy organizations.
- Private corporations.
- Governmental agencies.
What does it take to become effective in environmental communication?
There are a number of key skills, qualities, and experience it is important to have.
- Public speaking: the ability to articulate your views efficiently and positively in various formats, including a speech, a panel, a debate, and group discussion.
- Writing skills: effective and efficient writing.
- Interpersonal skills, such as conflict resolution, negotiation, and community building.
- Computer skills: not only word-processing but also spread sheets (e.g. excel) and computer presentations (e.g. PowerPoint) and databases.
- Internships with organizations dealing with the environment and/or with communication.
- Work experience in various types of organizations that involve either the environment or communication. This could be volunteer work or summer work in the field.
- Professional experience: some masters programs expect students to have professional job experience related to communication or environmental issues after graduation and before entering a masters program.
- Ability to communicate information in a clear and efficient way while at the same time demonstrating care for the environment.
- Ability to understand multiple and opposing viewpoints and responding to them in an informed, clear way.
- A strong commitment to the well-being of the environment, including a strong desire to work against those who are destructive of nature.
So what should I do while I’m in college?
- Major or minor in Environmental Studies to get a broad, interdisciplinary understanding of environmental issues.
- Also major in a department that challenges you to think critically, do research, write effectively, and solve practical problems. Consider a double major or minor in Communication.
- Seek out classes and other opportunities to practice your communication skills.
- Take particular courses that will help you understand environmental issues. One example is statistics, which will enable you to make and evaluate statistical arguments.
- Another is technical or scientific writing. Also keep in mind that the more environmental science you know, the better you will be in this field.
- Get as much experience as possible in environmental issues or communication during summer work, internships, volunteering, writing for the student newspaper, etc.
- Cultivate the skills and qualities listed above.
Should I get a graduate degree?
With substantial experience, the right academic background, and the skills and qualities mentioned above, you will be valuable to many organizations. However, a relevant masters degree can help you get the job you really want: M.A. in Communication, Environmental Studies, Public Administration, or Public Policy.
What are some examples of actual job listings in environmental communication?
- The Press Officer will be responsible for all press and media activity at the organization and will report directly to the President.
- Write, edit and distribute press releases, advisories and news releases to national and grassroots media outlets.
- Draft op-eds, articles and other papers.
- Vigorously promote GRACE issues and experts to the media. Pitch stories to the media and answer press inquiries. If necessary, act as spokesperson.
- Develop and maintain solid relationships with reporters, editors and producers in all forms of media, both locally and nationally.
- Write and proofread brochures, fact sheets and written materials; oversee printing and distribution.
- Work as GRACE press liaison with various regional and national coalitions.
- Register staff as experts with think tanks and promote to news media.
- Develop and maintain press kits, press lists.
- Minimum 5 years experience in public/media relations/journalism.
- Excellent writing, editing, proofreading, organizational and communication skills.
- Proven experience in developing media strategies around environmental and advocacy issues and pitching stories to major national media reporters and producers, as well as to grassroots media.
- Excellent computer skills, including Word and Filemaker Pro. Familiarity with blast faxing desirable.
- Self starter who can work both independently and as a member of a team. Ability to interact and work with a variety of personalities.
- Familiar with environmental and nuclear issues, as well as current events.
- Capability to clearly and concisely articulate complex issues, and to utilize the media creatively.
- BS or BA in Writing, Journalism, Communications or other relevant degree.
Program Communications Director
Description: The Program Communications Director (PCD) will develop and implement strategic communications plans to advance the goals of Environmental Defense, assuring broader recognition of the organization's advocacy efforts among elected and appointed officials, opinion leaders, potential funders and the public at large. The PCD will develop and maintain positive working relationships with targeted online, print and broadcast journalists, editorial writers and columnists, as well as with other influentials. The PCD will help plan and carry out press strategies including press conferences, one-on-one meetings with the media, press releases and other written materials and staff training for media opportunities. The PCD will also work to increase the profile of the organization through non-media outreach to constituencies by, for example, helping staff identify opportunities for lectures, dinners and meetings with opinion leaders. The PCD will support the program staff in developing campaign strategies and materials. The PCD will coordinate closely with the national office in the development of communications strategies and materials, so as to assure a consistent Environmental Defense message.
- Develop and execute strategic communications plans for program activities and for targeted branding efforts.
- Create cultivation plans for assigned media outlets.
- Help create and implement press outreach and response strategies on a daily basis, with a special focus on program goals and influencing the actions of regulatory agencies, other governmental bodies and key target audiences.
- Develop feature concepts and coverage.
- Serve as Environmental Defense spokesperson as appropriate.
- Create and distribute press materials under intense deadline pressure.
- Monitor and facilitate press response to breaking news and legislative events.
- Distribute news stories to appropriate staff throughout the day.
- Help develop and execute long-term strategic communications planning while maintaining an opportunistic approach to daily, breaking news events.
- Maintain regular contact with a wide variety of Environmental Defense staff through e-mail, telephone and in-person meetings.
- Maintain daily telephone and in-person contact with key members of the press corps as well as with members of the NGO and governmental community.
- Work with senior staff on the communications aspects of policy and programmatic decisions.
Qualifications: A college degree in communications with a minimum 4 years PR/communication planning experience. Superior attention to detail and good organizational skills. Ability to adapt to frequent change with the ability to prioritize effectively under constant deadline pressure. Proven strategic thinking and judgment. Experience with the national press corps as well as with state and Federal agencies. Internet and computer mastery. Self starter, able to work well with remote supervision. Communication experience with environmental advocacy organizations a distinct plus.
Description: Environmentally conscious Luxurious Organic Home company based in Dallas is looking for solid (1-4 years experience), creative PR person to handle advertising/marketing, etc. for a new Organic/Eco-Safe Home company.
- Researches appropriate advertising and media avenues, creates ideas and may write copy for consumer communications (ex. Press releases, articles, consumer-focused news releases)
- Plans, organizes and conducts special events and meetings (ex. Key executive interviews, Features, Media coordination)
- Serves as the point of contact for outside media
- Advises management on how to direct and respond to media requests
- BFA or similar in Public Relations and Marketing required.
- Strong interest in some of the following: Environmental practices, Sustainable living, Eco-safe practices and materials. 3-5 years of public relations and communications experience in a related product company.
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills, able to share examples of such ability.
- To cultivate and foster relationships with external counterparts and team members.
- Demonstrated maturity in handling sensitive and confidential areas; coordinating well sometimes during crunch or stressful time periods.
- Desires exposure, being the front person but with balanced ego and company-service motivation.
- Must be well organized.
Terms: Salary contingent with experience $32-38,000/yr.
Description: OMB Watch is seeking a person to more effectively communicate our policy messages to key audiences and, to a lesser extent, raise the profile of the organization. Audiences include nonprofits, policymakers, and the public. Significant time will be spent working with the news media.
- Directing media relations, including writing and strategically distributing releases, op-eds, and other materials
- placing stories in appropriate national and local outlets
- building and maintaining relationships with key journalists
- Helping program staff develop and implement plans for disseminating reports and other materials
- Editing and publishing an online, biweekly newsletter and quarterly report; and helping edit materials produced by other staff
- Maintaining an accurate, organization-wide contact database (with part-time data-entry assistance)
- Overseeing other communications vehicles intended to reach the public, including administration of online activist tools and overall content management of several web sites
- Working with other progressive organizations to coordinate messaging and content
- General research, writing and advocacy responsibilities as assigned by the Executive Director
Qualifications: Applicants should have at least four years experience, including some combination of media relations, publications, and marketing communications. Exceptional writing and editing skills, particularly the ability to translate complex issues into clear, simple ideas, are essential. The position also requires a commitment to social justice, demonstrated interest in working in the nonprofit sector, high energy level, ability to juggle competing priorities, and comfort working in a collaborative environment. Graphic design and strong computer skills are a plus.