How can we unite people when talking about energy?
(ACEEE blog, 20 Jul 2018) Words matter. Using the right ones can bring people together, while choosing the wrong ones (e.g., you’re actually smart) can get you in trouble.
For this reason, I am pleased that our Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings next month will explore a broad range of topics, including energy messaging that can unite rather than divide us.
One of our speakers will be Suzanne Shelton, president and CEO of the Shelton Group, a marketing communication agency that focuses exclusively on the energy and environment sectors. She will describe the results of her 2017 study, which surveyed 2,000 people and focused on the sustainability terms that all Americans can agree on, regardless of political affiliation. I caught up with Suzanne to get a sneak peek of her presentation, entitled “Multiple Americas: Are there messaging strategies that can bridge the divide?” I hope you join us at Summer Study to see Suzanne’s full presentation and those of our other 350-plus speakers on dozens of topics.
Here are excerpts of our conversation:
You tested words to see which ones could best unite or divide us. Which ones unite and why?
What we measured was the degree of positive or negative reaction people had to various words and phrases. We call those that elicited more positive reactions words that “unite,” meaning most people won’t get turned off from listening to you when you use them. We found that “science,” “conservation,” and “sustainability” all ranked high on the positive end of the scale. All three resonate across demographics, political ideologies, and worldviews.