2.12 Information and communication

Few events attract as much media attention as festivals, so it’s natural for festivals to feel certain responsibilities for communicating important attitudes and highlighting current challenges in society. The festival visitors are of a generation more involved in – and aware of – environmental issues than the general population. It’s important to take advantage of this unique position to give voice to important environmental attitudes.

But communicating environmental attitudes isn’t just a responsibility, it can be a strength! Many festivals experience broader and more positive media coverage by focusing on environmental initiatives in their communication.

Media coverage

The event can achieve increased attention and positive coverage by talking about their environmental work to the media as well. In addition to those media you’re already connected with, you could e.g. contact

  • Miljøstrategi (www.miljostrategi.no), an independent magazine about the environment
  • OIKOS (the union of organic consumers and manufacturers) runs the magazine Ren Mat (Clean Food) – a magazine on ecology, food and environment (www.oikos.no)
  • Dagligvarehandelens Økoside (www.dagligvarehandelen.com), an independent weekly journal for grocer

And what about a visit from some distinguished guests of environmental renown? Perhaps some well known people from the municipality’s environmental organizations, or an artist with a clear environmental message?

An event can function well as a «green rolemodel», and an organizer can front important causes. A clear message may attract media and exciting partners to the event. But a prerequisite to building an image as an environmentally aware event organizer is the issue of credibility. You have to deliver on your promises and your goals should be met. Without integrity and authenticity, you harm and dilute the cause as well as communicate counterproductively.

Invite all collaboratos, journalists, and other potentially interested to an environmental survey of the event. Here you can tell why you wish to work with environmental issues, what your goals are, and what you have done. A survey will showcase how your work has been performed in the real world, and any sponsors can see what they have contributed to.

Social responsibility

Holistic environmental work is not just about caring for nature, but also for culture and society. Environmental concerns and social responsibility are connected! As event organizers, you can use this opportunity to show that you are engaged and responsible citizens. Increasing numbers of businesses feature ethical guidelines or «codes of conduct» which outline ethical requirements for purchase routines. The goal of such guidelines is to ensure good working conditions for the manufacturer’s employees. The ethical guidelines are based on the internationally recognized ILO- and UN conventions which ensure union liberty and prohibit child labour, slavery, and discrimination based on religious orientation or ethnicity. An important principle in the work of ethical purchasing is that it requires consistent work over time to achieve significant improvements. Additionally, purchase price is very relevant. Unreasonable efforts on the side of the buyer to pressure down the supplier’s offering price may lead to poor working conditions. Information on the real world implementation of ethical purchase routines can be found online at www.etiskhandel.no

By choosing collaborators that can, and want to, identify with the basic values you wish to communicate, you strengthen the foundation of these values. You could also choose to focus on collaborating with locals, so as to inspire positive ripple effects from the festival to the local environment.

In the summer of 2007, the Øya festival, Norwegian Wood, and the Hove festival collaborated, with others, on the Amnesty International campaign Make Some Noise. The goal of the campaign was to focus on the conditions in Darfur by communicating to a young audience.

The Kongsberg Jazz festival has collaborated with Amnesty International under the banner «Human beings and music are best enjoyed alive». Jazz has traditionally been a politically charged music genre, and important musicians have been important voices in the fight for human rights. The goal is that the collaboration with Amnesty International should be visible throughout the entire festival

Every year, any financial surplus from the Roskilde Festival, goes in full to the Roskilde Foundation. The foundation distributes money for humanitarian, cultural, and social work for the good of people all over the world. Over the last 30 years, more than 70 million DK ( > 9 million euros) have been distributed to, among others, Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, and Save the Children.

To get more information on the practical work surrounding profile, PR, and promotion, check out the book Feite Forestillinger from Norsk Rockforbund at www.norskrockforbund.no.

Choice of collaborators and information to the public about the environmental profile

To foster understanding of the full scope of your event’s environmental work, it’s important that your collaborators – sponsors as well as suppliers – are informed about the environmental work.

While choosing collaborators that have an environmental profile, or that can offer environmentally friendly products, relevant questions can be:

  • Is the business environmentally certified?
  • Does the business offer environmentally certified products?
  • Does the business have an environmental policy?
  • Does the business conduct any type of environmental training?
  • Does the business put demands on its subcontractors?
  • Does the business have environmental reports?

Examples of potential collaborators could include certified printers or places of accommodation.

Collaborators that should be informed may include

  • Owners of facilities and outdoor areas
  • Restaurants, caterers, hotels and camp sites
  • Ad agencies and printers
  • All sponsors

In short: All who contribute to the event must be informed about the event’s environmental profile and what it means for those involved.

Designing your information

  • Verbal information about the environmental vision/policy etc at the first meeting.
  • Written information, e.g. a simple checklist, or segments of it, to every collaborator. Mark every list with those responsible for the respective intitiatives, and when they are to be carried out.
  • Include information about the environmental profile and what you expect of your collaborators in all contracts.

How can sponsors contribute to the event’s environmental profile?

  • Limit waste production: Don’t distribute flyers and other waste-producing materials.
  • Honour the organizer’s profile – adhere to the guidelines

Communication with the partners

Good communication is very important as the work is carried out. It’s often necessary to meet to discuss the event, inspect facilities, etc., but try to limit your use of transportation. Perhaps a phone call or an e-mail will suffice?

Visitors

The visitors should also be informed about the environmental profile of your event. You can put information in your programme, create an environmental section on your website, or place information in facilities, at venues and throughout the area

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