News: Extraordinary worldwide PR collaboration fights climate crisis

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An unprecedented 45 PR agencies and industry organisations came together to work for a shared objective – urgent action against climate change. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s “Weather Kids” campaign launched on 21 March, with coverage in over 80 markets so far. 

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Weather Kids campaign features a series of children from around the world taking over local and national TV weather reports to deliver terrifying forecasts from the future. The segments warn viewers of catastrophic risks rising temperatures will bring to people and the global economy in just a few decades, including a projected impact on 94 per cent of the world’s children. The earned media objective focused on achieving tier 1 press coverage in all the partner markets, with the most important objective being to motivate adults to take a pledge that commits them to changing their habits for the benefit of children in their life. The creators of the idea were purpose-driven creative agency, Activista. 

There was no PR budget for this campaign, yet the call for support from the global PR community was answered emphatically, with the commitment from some of the world’s leading agencies from the USA and Canada, Australia, UK, Northern Ireland, Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Czechia, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Hungary, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, China and Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia. PR agencies, especially the world’s biggest, are known for their sharp attention to resources and revenues, so to achieve this collaboration required an inspiring creativity, drive, dedication, and genuine hunger for change. The scale of worldwide coverage has been monumental, achieving broadcast and print media across target markets including China, India, UK and US. 

The International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO) announced their partnership with UNDP in November and swiftly set up a Climate Communications Taskforce (CCT) to tackle PR campaigns, with an immediate focus on the earned media for Weather Kids. 

The purpose of the taskforce for this campaign was simple – own and execute the earned media strategy worldwide, without spending. Chris Pratt, managing director, Better Impact at Hill+Knowlton Strategies in the UK was appointed co-chair of the Taskforce alongside Boaz Paldi, chief creative officer, UNDP. 

With the strategy in place, the taskforce then built a vast network of support for local country activation, securing the commitment of 35 ‘Activation Partners‘. Activation partners have been integral in pitching the story locally, with a breathtaking range of approaches, ideas, and solutions. 

The success of the collective PR effort shows the power and impact not only of PR agencies, but of international networks. At a time when global institutions are under a microscope, facing challenges from divisive politics to misinformation – this story is an important statement about the nature of global not-for-profit organisations, and their unique ability to mobilise collective action and affect change. 

The strength and seriousness with which UNDP has committed to PR and the earned media around this campaign is another demonstration of PR’s status as a leading force in global issues and shaping humanity’s future.  

Boaz Paldi, chief creative officer, UNDP, and co-chair Climate Communications Taskforce said: “We know PR is an integral component in fighting climate change and this campaign has reinforced that substantially. I have been blown away by the scale of support from ICCO’s members for Weather Kids. The commitment to contribute from so many different organisations, countries, cultures, languages is unlike anything I’ve seen before. This is the biggest climate campaign ever and gives great hope for the future of the children at the heart of Weather Kids.”

Chris Pratt, co-chair, Climate Communications Taskforce said: “It has been an honour to lead the CCT alongside Boaz with such a talented group of PR experts delivering fantastic earned media for this campaign worldwide. The scale and diversity of support from the PR community demonstrates the nature of the issue we are seeking to tackle. This affects us all and I am sure Weather Kids is just the beginning for the CCT in turning the tide and making a difference for the future of the planet.”

Paco Conde, founder and ECD, Actavista said: “At Activista, we believe that universal truths breed extraordinary ideas. Few truths are as universal as the desire to secure a better future for our children. This campaign amplifies their voices, reminding us that their future is at stake and urging climate action.”

Grzegorz Szczepanski (pictured), president, ICCO said: “When the UNDP pitched the idea to ICCO at Cannes Lions last year, we thought wow – I am not sure anything like this has been done before – but of course we couldn’t refuse. Climate communications was already a top priority for ICCO and its members, and I had faith in our network to deliver to the high standards and ambitious objectives – they didn’t let us down. This campaign has brought together ICCO members from over 30 countries and it is just the start of our UNDP partnership. It is a great credit to our members that PR is being recognised as integral to solving the great global challenges of our times”.