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'Cleaner and Greener' Campaign

Client: 

Royal Automobile Association of SA

PR Company: 

Royal Automobile Association of SA

Award Category: 

Award Type: 

Call Number: 

2008 C12 - 3

Year: 

2008

Executive Summary: 

Climate change, global warming and the environmental impact of transport have sparked hotly-contested debate within the media and broader community.

Often complex information is communicated to a confused community that is keen to reduce environmental impacts but doesn’t know where to turn for trusted, reliable information.

With a membership of more than 570,000 South Australian motorists, the RAA has a unique position to implement an education campaign about the true environmental impact of cars, and encourage improved behaviour at home and behind the wheel in order to reduce, and often eliminate, greenhouse gas emissions.

Central to RAA’s credibility was its own environmental credentials – leading to a pre-campaign audit of its business and offsetting carbon emissions for the entire road service fleet.

The PR campaign that was ultimately developed and implemented utilised a mix of printed and online mediums, with a view to creating opportunities that encouraged two-way dialogue with the community. The campaign not only received positive media coverage, but also generated comments of praise from RAA members. Website hits specific to the environment section were extremely healthy, as was the amount of downloads of the fact sheets.

A review of understanding amongst RAA members indicates a better comprehension of environmental issues and the impact of cars.

Situation Analysis: 

There is strong scientific evidence that identifies human activity as a significant contributor to climate change. Many of the activities that have driven Australia’s economic growth and improved living standards emit a range of greenhouse gases that are damaging to the global environment.

With increased media attention focused on environmental issues, most Australians have become increasingly aware of, and concerned about, the environment. RAA research undertaken pre-campaign indicated that eight in ten motorists (79 per cent) claim to be concerned about the effect of motor vehicles on the environment.

Embedded in this debate, the car remains an integral part of most of our daily lives, with 79 per cent of travel still occurring by car, compared to only 4.6 per cent by public transport.

Australia’s annual greenhouse gas emissions are equivalent to around 559 million tones of CO2, which is approximately 1.5 per cent of global emissions. According to the Australian Greenhouse Office, passenger cars generate around eight per cent of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions, which is slightly more than half of the nation’s transport sector emissions.

As South Australia’s peak motoring body, the RAA is in a unique position to help tackle the climate change challenge by assisting motorists to contribute to a cleaner and greener community, while satisfying their need for ongoing mobility and safety.

RAA has for many years played a leading role at a state level, in promoting cleaner, less carbon intensive, and more fuel-efficient motoring through a range of initiatives including consumer testing, driver training and campaigns for legislative action for improved vehicle emission and fuel quality standards.

Central to RAA’s environmental platform was the need to educate the public with regards to the true impact of cars, and what individuals can do to reduce emissions at home and on the road. With 70 per cent of licensed drivers in SA being RAA members, the Association has unparalleled access to a wide section of the community.

Research: 

The 2007 Australian National Opinion Poll (ANOP) survey of motorists commissioned by the RAA in partnership with Australia’s motoring clubs, indicated that climate change was seen as an issue of increasing importance, with media coverage regarding carbon emissions assisting to shape consumer opinions.

The survey results showed that individuals wanted to play a role in reducing their environmental footprint but were reluctant to change the role of the motor vehicle in their lives. The survey found that 79 per cent of motorists were concerned about the effect that motoring had on the environment (up from 73 per cent in 2005 and 64 per cent in 2003) with 31 per cent reporting to be extremely concerned.

These results are reaffirmed in Roy Morgan research, which reported the vast majority of respondents agreed that “we must act now on environmental problems” with 88 per cent agreeing that if we don’t act now we’ll never control our environmental problems and 73 per cent disagreeing that threats to the environment are exaggerated.

Extensive member research undertaken by RAA prior to this education campaign by way of a series of qualitative focus groups indicated that the community supported the motoring club’s active involvement in the environmental debate, and the fact that they want to reduce their environmental footprint but find the volume of information available difficult to understand.

Leveraging off RAA’s trusted and credible brand, an environmental education campaign was designed to educate members about their individual impact and ways to reduce it.

Target Policies: 

There were a number of key target publics to be engaged and informed in this campaign, including:

  • State and Federal Governments and decision-makers within,
  • Industry – which needed to be engaged and informed of activities undertaken by RAA,
  • RAA members – who needed to be advised of what they can do to reduce vehicle emissions, and what RAA is doing to contribute to the debate,
  • Media – who needed to be informed and educated on the true level of vehicle emissions in comparison to the overall greenhouse gas debate; and
  • The general public – including non-RAA motorists.

Communication Strategy: 

Because one of the most cost-effective means of reducing the environmental impact of cars is through behavioral change, the planning phase of this campaign identified the need to construct an education campaign that promoted the most efficient use of motor vehicles, ways to reduce vehicle use, environmentally-correct vehicle maintenance and appropriate driving techniques.

In the planning stage, RAA conducted a review of its environmental credentials to avoid any potential for community criticism. It was important for RAA to have its own house in order, and position itself as being a benchmark organisation that is committed to reducing its own carbon footprint.

An energy audit was conducted by an independent specialist, which indicated that the RAA was not an overly large CO2 emitter for an organisation of its size. Notwithstanding that result, the RAA set a goal of reducing its overall emissions by 10 per cent by 1 July 2008, and achieved this target.

At a community level, the RAA remains a major sponsor of several entrants in the World Solar Challenge to encourage alternative energy development, and regularly provides advice to schools and community groups concerning vehicle maintenance, emissions and more efficient driving techniques.

While the RAA had already successfully minimised emissions generated by its emergency road service fleet through the use of dual-fuelled vehicles (ULP/LPG) – the next step, announced in February 2008 as part of a national announcement involving all the motoring clubs, was to offset the remaining emissions to make the entire metropolitan emergency road service fleet carbon neutral. More than 6,000 trees will be planted annually that will not only absorb and offset the emissions generated but help tackle salinity problems, improve water quality and provide essential habitat for native species.

The planning stage also saw the following occur:

  • Design of a central campaign theme that had application across the RAA magazine, fact sheets, advertising and online,
  • Materials organised for display in shopfronts and RAA offices,
  • Briefing of MP’s at State and Federal levels regarding RAA policy and activities,
  • Briefing of government departments, media and industry organisations/partners,
  • The badging of two highly-visible “cleaner and greener” RAA patrol vans for operational and promotional use, plus a smaller sticker for application on all other RAA patrols; and
  • Key journalists were identified, and talkback radio producers were provided with fact sheets and discussion points, to encourage debate about cars and the environment.

Implementation: 

The campaign was formally “launched” on Friday 22 February by way of a media release to all SA media, and this resulted in pick up from radio, TV and print. The offsetting of the RAA patrol van fleet was identified as the best news angle, and the timing was designed to coincide as part of a national initiative involving all other Australian motoring clubs – coordinated by the Australian Automobile Association.

A series of environmental fact sheets was developed in the planning stage and designed to complement an eight-page feature article in the March/April issue of samotor – the RAA magazine, were uploaded onto the RAA website at www.raa.net.

Concurrently, two RAA patrol vans were badged with highly visible “cleaner and greener” signage to act as mobile promotional advertisements and all other patrol vans had more discreet stickers applied to the rear window to reinforce their carbon-neutral status.

An internal communications strategy was paramount to the overall success of this campaign, and recognised the fact that RAA staff served as ambassadors on behalf of the organisation. With that in mind, staff were briefed on the campaign by way of feature articles in the staff newsletter – connect – as well as fact sheets and briefing notes provided to all areas that had direct liaison with members, including call centres and the retail office network. This allowed staff to be able to provide informed comment when interacting with members.

Briefings were conducted with the State Government and key environmental stakeholders to highlight the campaign, and a special edition of the RAA e-newsletter – advocate – was distributed to nearly 1000 State and Federal politicians and key stakeholders, public and private sector policy and decisionmakers, highlighting RAA’s environmental initiatives.

A competition was included in the February RAA member e-newsletter with 100 public transport multitrips given away, as a means to encourage greater use of public transport. Approximately 1000 people entered this draw, and proved to be a popular competition.

AUDIENCE

ACTIVITY

RESPONSIBILITY/RESOURCE

ACTION DATE

Internal

Draft Communications Plan

Public Relations

10/12/07

Internal

Design of posters and brochures

Graphic Designer

17/12/07

Internal

Communication Strategy Approved

15/1/08

Internal

Release of connect staff newsletter outlining national policy

Public Relations

January 08

External

Update review of RAA website

and assess need for additional information

Public Relations

February 08

Internal

Posters and brochures disseminated to retail network

Graphic Designer

February 08

External

Launch of campaign and media release distributed

PR Coordinator

22/2/08

Internal

connect (Issue 3) article on patrol van offsetting

February 08

Internal

Posters and brochures distributed

Mailroom

February 08

External

Launch membership challenge

PR to provide support

Internal

Have RAA join Earth Hour activities – connect promotion

Public Relations

March 08

Internal

connect article re RAA joining Greenhouse Challenge

Public Relations

June 08

Results: 

The campaign launch generated significant radio and print media coverage, whilst an eight-page feature article appeared in the March/April issue of samotor – the RAA magazine, and was read by an estimated 729,000 readers.

The environment section of the RAA website received more than 1000 hits immediately after the start of the campaign, and there was more than 600 downloads of the various environmental fact sheets RAA received more than 100 letters to the editor and phone calls from RAA members praising the initiative, and the e-news multi-trip competition generated more than 1000 entries.

Evaluation: 

Whilst longer term evaluation is currently underway via ongoing member engagement to monitor greater levels of understanding towards environmental issues, such education needs to be sustained in order to achieve results.

Anecdotal evidence received immediately post-campaign from RAA members flagged an enhanced understanding of environmental issues, and what drivers can do behind the wheel to minimise their impact.

The evaluation methods used for this campaign are identified in the table below:

COMMUNICATION ACTIVITY

PURPOSE OF THIS ACTIVITY

EVALUATION TOOL

EFFECTIVENESS MEASURE

Education material

To create awareness and educate motorists regarding environmental issues and ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

Pre-test of key messages and draft design with motorists before final production.

Positive verbal and written feedback on accuracy of key messages

Positive verbal and written feedback on overall effectiveness

Website

To educate

To effect behavioural change

Collate number of hits on website

Assess timing and source of hits to determine whether other communication activity may have instigated the website ‘enquiry’.

Media relations

To create awareness and educate media of the true impact of cars

Identify media mentions of campaign

Record number of contacts with media regarding campaign

Assess media coverage for accuracy and appropriateness of message

Estimate reach of each message

Estimate AVE for media coverage

All

Monitor long-term effects on climate change and SA’s vehicle emissions/ driving patterns

Fuel usage statistics, carbon testing results

Reduction is reported