Going Green: How City Sustainability Leverages Marketing Copy to Confront Climate Change

Sustainable cities are working toward achieving this utopia through green marketing campaigns that encourage the community to help fight climate change. Here's what marketers can learn.

City sustainability

Around the world, cities are taking innovative measures to tackle challenges like climate change and create more sustainable communities. These initiatives use various marketing tactics to encourage residents to help boost city sustainability efforts, like green justice zones and green districts

With sustainability rising in importance among consumers and brands, it’s not surprising that cities have embraced sustainable copy, as well. Many of these local campaigns focus on environmentally friendly messages that employ a wide range of creative strategies to connect with audiences, and in turn help the environment.

City sustainability relies on the audience’s willingness to both participate and connect with the campaign—the cornerstones of environmental movements. Miami and Greenville are a few examples of cities that have positioned themselves as examples of resilience and sustainability. 

Miami knows the eyes of the world are on it as a top destination for beautiful beaches, diverse culture, and energetic nightlife. But despite the sunny shores and hoards of tourists, the city’s location is highly vulnerable to climate change and sea-level rise, with the locale often falling victim to flooding, erosion, and extreme storms. 

Greenville, a small city in South Carolina with about 70,000 residents, is known for being a great place to retire, with its thriving downtown and various cultural and entertainment centers. Still, the city is no stranger to littered streets and knows that discarded bottles, wrappers, and containers are major eyesores that affect the overall appearance and cleanliness of the city. 

But how exactly are these two cities putting city sustainability at the forefront, and motivating residents to do the same? Here are a few strategies these cities use to connect with their audience and become major players in city sustainability.

Learn why the best return on your marketing dollar comes from copywriting.

Show, don’t tell—green copy follows the golden rule of writing 

Talking about city sustainability isn’t easy. It requires major innovations in plans and strategy. But as all writers know, the best way to connect with an audience is to show, not tell. 

In response to the often litter-filled streets, Greenville developed a long-term city sustainability plan aimed to protect natural resources and reduce the city’s carbon footprint. In attention-grabbing ads found throughout the city (reminiscent of something you might see on Leave It to Beaver), an illustrated man encourages residents to “Make Greenville Cleanville.” With copy like, “A clean city benefits everyone,” Greenville shares the importance of clean streets in keeping natural resources and amenities sustainable. By not directly telling its residents that it cares about its people and the planet, Greenville was able to focus its copy on actions rather than feelings. 

Stay optimistic with sustainable copy 

While talking about the negative aspects of climate change can scare people into making a change, it’s often a sure-fire way to turn people off. People like to feel hopeful and optimistic, and your copy should reflect that mood.

A one-stop-shop for city sustainability efforts, Miami Beach’s Rising Above Portal provides the community with the proper resources and tools to become familiar with the city’s climate change and sea-level rise initiatives. Short, attention-grabbing copy like, “Climate Science, Climate Adaptation, Climate Mitigation,” aims to make it easy for community members to understand the more complex ins and outs of its sustainability efforts. 

Similarly, phrases like, “Rising Above,” changes the conversation into a positive one. By creating a dedicated place for the greater community to easily access vital information, residents can truly understand the city’s sustainability efforts and address and adapt to climate change. As water levels rise, Miami continues to rise higher and encourage the community to get involved. 

MarketSmiths Case Study

An independent investment advisory firm with over $50B in AUA sought to refresh its marketing strategies and build their growth prospects, having previously relied on referrals for new business. Without internal staff to bolster the new marketing initiatives, the firm reached out to MarketSmiths for our copywriting savvy. Since 2018, our copywriting team has helped the advisory firm on a range of projects, including web copy, brand content articles, thought leadership, an internal style guide, and more.

Focus on the good—so good things can happen

A green city incorporates eco-friendly practices that can lead to a healthier environment and a lower carbon footprint. As city sustainability becomes essential in the quest to reverse global climate change, more campaigns, like those in Greenville and Miami, are gaining traction.

Through clever, eye-catching copy, both cities make it clear that committing to city sustainability is worth the effort in the present day and for generations to come. The campaigns work because they show their community members what they need to do to fight climate change and focus on the benefits for everyone. Prescriptively telling your audience what they need to do isn’t appealing, but keeping it light and focusing on the good that can come from protecting the environment calls everyone to act. 

Ultimately, city sustainability starts with eye-catching, transparent, and actionable green sustainable copy because remember—there’s no planet B. 

Looking for copy that makes a change? Contact the MarketSmiths team today. 

Christina Rasmussen

Christina Rasmussen

A native Bostonian, Christina has written for newspapers up and down the north shore of Boston before joining MarketSmiths. When she’s not writing or honing her craft, you can find her dabbling in the foodie scene and learning all there is to know about the royals.

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