“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."Mark Twain

Precise and consistent language is critical for effective communications. A significant challenge within the green and seeking to be green community is creating a compelling message that differentiates products, services and practices from the competition.

In developing a message for external audiences, internal stakeholders are often forgotten. Whether your workforce is ten or tens of thousands, experiences and attitudes are being shared with formal and informal networks. With the right words, these individuals have the tools to become authentic champions on green issues. A recent study of workplace values found that American workers seek employment (63 percent) and value (71 percent) a commitment to the environment. Harris Interactive National Quorum conducted the survey on behalf of Interface, Inc. Without the right words, they may stumble. In creating your messages, the Grammar of Green is a four point checklist to vet statements for: clarity, credibility, consistency and compliance. These principles are helpful guides to maintain and build your reputation using triple bottom line values.
  • Clarity. Vague references, unsubstantiated claims and statements muddled by unnecessary explanation will not advance your message. The more you say, the less you convey. A notice on my bulletin board reminds me that memorable quotes are short and now tweetable, while federal regulations on the sale of cabbage at 26,911words are not. Is the message one that the entire workforce can easily share?
  • Credibility. Boasts of green features and behaviors hold no sway without substantiation. Words must match actions. Transparency backed by third-party certification, actions and measured success enhance your reputation. Authentic accomplishment deserves recognition. Is the message one that the workforce believes and can deliver with confidence?
  • Consistency. Repetition should strengthen your point and make it memorable. If your internal stakeholders use words from the same songbook, you will have a powerful and authentic chorus. Can you say iPhone without revolutionary?
  • Compliance. Avoid misrepresentation and deception that draw regulatory red flags and backlash. Industry jargon and gigabytes of information will not shield you from regulators or independent watchdogs.
What are your favorite examples of organizations that enable workforce evangelists as champions?

Green Earth PR Blog: http://blog.greenearthpr.net/

Nancy Rogers
Nancy Rogers is founder of Green Earth PR Network (www.greenearthpr.net), all-star consultants helping clients communicate internally and externally with authentic messages, cutting through clutter and avoiding greenwash to drive sustainability reputations forward. Follow @GreenEarthPR and contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

This article originally appeared in the following locations:

EDC: http://www.edcmag.com/Articles/Blog/BNP_GUID_9-5-2006_A_10000000000001028901

SF: http://www.sustainablefacility.com/Articles/blog/BNP_GUID_9-5-2006_A_10000000000001028901