The Evolution Of Earth Day: Was It Luck? Timing? Or Just Darn Good Publicity?

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Earth Day is coming up on Tuesday, April 22. A well-known and celebrated spring event, it is right up there with April Fools, Tax Day, Easter and Passover. But it hasn’t always been so widely recognized.

How did Earth Day evolve into such a well-known and esteemed event? The answer: strategic, cause-related publicity.

Earth Day has been around for forty years. But it gained fame only after negative environmental impacts, such as climate change and air pollution, became newsworthy. Earth Day then blossomed in response to these environmental woes.

What can we learn from Earth Day’s rise to fame? Good publicity works. Well-trained PR professionals used tried and true strategies to promote Earth Day. And you can use those strategies as well:

  1. Link your issue to current events. Articles about climate change and the thinning ozone layer fill newspapers and blog posts. Stories about the positive impact of Earth Day on the environment now circulate through an equal number of news outlets.
  2. Create a newsworthy event. Earth Day became better known in 1990 when 200 million people worldwide participated in staged events to show environmental support, such as the 500-mile human chain in France.
  3. Make a specific call to action. Several years ago Earth Day Network, the official organization supporting Earth Day events, introduced ‘Billion Acts of Green’, an environmental service campaign to encourage commitments from individuals, organizations, businesses and governments to protect the planet. In this call to action, the network suggested things people can do to make a positive impact on the environment, such as washing their laundry in cold water and riding a bicycle to work instead of driving a car. Specific calls to action are more meaningful than general shout-outs about doing what’s right.
  4. Establish partnerships. The Earth Day Network gains support through a number of businesses and organizations that support the environment.
  5. Educate. Educate. Educate. Schools across the country start teaching children about all the ways they can celebrate Earth Day at a very early age.
  6. Use the Web and social media to spread the word. In truth, Earth Day became an A-List celebrity in the world of major events when it entered cyberspace sometime after the year 2000. The Web spread the word about Earth Day and increased participation in Earth Day celebrations. You must use the Internet to promote your event, and that includes the use of social media.

Remember, Earth Day was not born famous. It evolved into the event it is today. Your campaign may not receive calendar recognition in its first year, but, with well-planned PR strategies, it just might get there one day.

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