Comms industry must overcome nerves and bandwagoning to fight climate misinformation - new PRCA research

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- Over 75% of professionals feel that more needs to be done by the PR industry to tackle misinformation around the climate crisis

- 71% of comms professionals agree they are giving advice on the climate crisis more frequently than five years ago

- Although a fifth of PR professionals feeling nervous about the organisations they work for entering the climate crisis debate

- 60% of professionals believe that clients are too eager to jump on a bandwagon talking about the climate crisis, but often don’t act

- It’s estimated 21.8 million* UK adults have been misinformed about the climate crisis on social media in the past month
The launch of the first research report from the PRCA Misinformation in the Climate Crisis Strategy Group and Opinium, global insight agency, reveals an industry ready to tackle misinformation, but nervous about expertise and bandwagoning.
The study of almost 200 UK PR and communications professionals conducted by Opinium explored the current perception of the climate crisis and misinformation, the role of communications professionals within it and the challenges that need to be addressed. 
Over 80% of those surveyed are already playing an active role in advising the organisations they work for on how to navigate the climate crisis debate. The desire for this consultancy has increased in recent years, with 71% of PR professionals reporting that they are giving advice on this topic more frequently than they were five years ago.
While the advice is being requested, the majority of respondents (60%) felt that the organisations they represent all too often jumped on a bandwagon rather than take any meaningful action on the climate crisis. What’s more, nervousness around entering the debate was felt by a fifth of the respondents (18%) with nearly two fifths (39%) highlighting the feeling of the organisations they work for needing to be an ‘expert’ before being able to contribute to the debate.
In a complementary study of 2000 nationally representative UK adults, also conducted by Opinium, nearly half (47%) of social media users admitted to consuming social media news content about the climate crisis that was either made up or exaggerated in the past month, this equates to 21.8 million UK adults*. When asked to describe what misinformation is from a list, only 45% were able to accurately define it. 
John Brown, CEO and founder of Don’t Cry Wolf and chair of the PRCA strategy group said:

“What this research has done is give this strategy group a clear goal: to help comms professionals fight the spread of misinformation by levelling up their knowledge, celebrating genuine action and providing best practice. 
“This year has to be about moving beyond intent and into action. There is a heap of extraordinary work coming from industries including energy, manufacturing and technology that is perhaps being silenced in favour of bandwagoning and greenwashing. If this strategy group can play a meaningful role in changing the narrative from one of fear, nervousness and false promises to confidence, clarity and action, then we’ll have fulfilled our goal.”
Commenting on the research, Sophie Holland, Research Manager, Opinium added:
“Misinformation surrounding the climate crisis is a major issue which creates confusion and negativity around this debate, it’s vital that people have the correct information to inform their choices. We are delighted to be supporting the PR and Comms industry in taking a lead on tackling this vital issue. These insights certainly highlight the scale of the issue at hand here, as well as the challenges that the PR and Comms industry faces in creating meaningful action on the climate crisis with the organisations they work with.”’
The findings of the research were launched today at an industry panel event and the strategy group has put a call out to the industry to share its success stories and best practice content via the following webform.
Notes to editors
*21.8 million UK adults calculations.  in our survey 828 participants have been misinformed on the climate crisis on social media in the past month, this is 41% of the UK population.
(828/2000) * 52,673,000 =  21,806,622
Survey details
1. Online survey of 180 members of the PR and Comms industry, conducted by Opinium between 17th February and 15th March 2021.
2. Online survey of 2000 nationally representative UK adults, conducted by Opinium between 17th February and 19th February 2021.  

About the PRCA
The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) is the world’s largest professional PR body.

We represent more than 35,000 PR professionals in 70 countries worldwide. With offices in London, Singapore, Dubai, and Buenos Aires, we are a global advocate for excellence in public relations.

Our mission is to create a more professional, ethical, and prosperous PR industry. We champion - and enforce - professional standards in the UK and overseas through our Professional Charter and Code of Conduct. The Code compels members to adhere to the highest standards of ethical practice.

We deliver exceptional training, authoritative industry data, and global networking and development opportunities. We also manage the International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO), the umbrella body for 41 PR associations and 3,000 agencies across the world, and LG Comms – the UK’s national body for authorities raising standards of local government communication.