We have recently had a lot of announcements around businesses deciding not to use plastic straws as they wreck havoc on the environment specially on marine lives.
And many more. All of this is action is in part a response to a social media campaign by celebrities and a horrifying viral video of a Sea Turtle with Straw up its Nostril.
Why Announce When You Are Not Ready Yet
What stuck me with these announcements is that they were all going to stop using these straws sometime in the future, some by the end of the year, some by the end of 2020 and so on and so forth.
The question I found asking myself is why is that the case? Why cant these businesses decide that they will stop using these plastic straws starting tomorrow or even maybe by start of next month?
- They need to find viable alternatives to these plastic straws that could replace them.
- They also need to consider the stock that they already have in their inventories or supply chain and the financial impact that it could have on their balance sheets.
All about Publicity
The question then arises as to why announce this ban now instead of figuring out the alternatives and then make an announcement, if one needs to make an announcement at all. It is all about publicity and free press. By making these announcements, these businesses gain a lot of good publicity and free press, which is not so easily forthcoming.
Then the announcements are so far off (when compared to the public memory, which doesn’t last more than a few days or until the next big announcement) that no one bothers to follow up and check if the announcements were followed up with action on the ground or not. I would assume that most of them do take action and when they do, it is yet another opportunity for good publicity and some more free press.
What could be different:
If I were running one of these businesses, I would rather plan the alternatives and simply stop using these straws without much fanfare and publicity and let our customer notice this change. This will come as a surprise to them and they will talk about it. This, in my opinion, is a much better alternative than the press talking about it.
This also gives makes the business a lot more trust worthy and respected in the eyes of their most important constituents – their customers, while being socially and environmentally conscious at the same time.
When you look at almost all press announcements in the recent past, you will find most of them are about future intent rather than present actions, which is troubling for me. This shows that businesses are desperate to try and borrow some good publicity without having earned it.
This also tells me that as members of the press, bloggers and content creators, we have a certain responsibility to hold these businesses accountable for their actions and not be swayed away by their intentions and announcements.