'Water' by Joachim Beuckelaer, a Dutch artist's take on The Elements c 1565
The Four Elements:
Fire, Earth, Air & Water
This newsletter is brought to you by the elements, Fire, Air, Earth and Water, which seem ever more present in our zeitgeist. It is also brought to you by the letter 'C' alla Sesame Street c.1979, and delivered in the same spirit of Cooperation exuded by Jim Henson’s puppet heroes (excluding Oscar The Grouch). Why? Because cooperation is the key ‘C’ we must embrace amid the multiple crises we face.
Somehow, it's been a full ten years since we issued our first tweet and started communicating for experts and organisations focussed on improving the status quo for people, planet, or both. And boy, does our work seem cut out now… Besides devastating conflicts in Ukraine, Israel and Palestine, the world is hotter and more combative than ever - virtually as well as physically. Against a background of seemingly endless wildfires that ravaged communities across the globe came rumours of a planned cage fight between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg. Sometimes we wonder about the human species…
In our prevailing cancel culture, how fitting that Twitter’s symbol is now a death-black ‘X’. This got us recalling our first ever newsletter entitled, ‘Whispering Tweet Nothings’. In it, we marvelled at how Trump’s seemingly somnambulant tweet of ‘Covfefe’ flew through the Twittersphere like a loose cannon, bypassing any form of communications control via the now-not-so-free channel. Has much changed since (bar the payment model), we ask, sardonically.
We know the ISSUES.
Now, how do we SOLVE them?
Fast forward to 2023, and telling people that you work in sustainability communications requires less explaining, to which we raise a hearty glass of organic, locally-produced sparkling wine. But it just shows how long it takes to change public opinion. Consider the fact that the late, great founder of Gaia Theory, James Lovelock, started observing changes in the atmosphere in the 1960s. Likewise, visionaries such as Rachel Carson, published her salutary book, Silent Spring, in 1962, setting the scene for what we face today: a collapse in biodiversity which sees 1 in 6 species at risk of extinction, as reported in September’s State Of Nature Report. Carson’s messages were amplified because of her astonishing story-telling ability: a talent we can only try to emulate in our communications work, here at Curious PR.
Finally, most of us realise that sustainability must be woven through the DNA of organisations, rather than appliquéd like a badge. So we were delighted to announce that our long-standing client, Key Production Group (a major provider of design and manufacturing services for vinyl records, CDs, DVDs, cassettes and more) has joined the B Corp community. As reported by Music Week and elsewhere, B Corps balance purpose with profit, and continually strive to do better. This aim should apply equally to individuals via the decisions we make: what and how to eat, travel, stay warm, be entertained. Yet such choices can seem overwhelming: buy music on vinyl or stream it, or both? (Afterall, those servers are energy hungry too, as explained in this podcast we helped facilitate.) Add in greenwashing - obfuscation, blinding with science, or sheer lies - and one can be tempted to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Yet, even if we're just understanding terms like 'ESG, GHGs and Scope 1, 2, 3 emissions', both baby and water must be kept!
Wildfires in Australia and Floods in China
🔥🔥🔥 FIRE 🔥🔥🔥
But back to the elements, starting with Fire, given that the world witnessed its hottest day on record on 3rd July, at 17.01°C. June had seen UK sea temperatures 4℃ higher than usual, and Beijing saw its heaviest rain since records began 140 years ago. We wore ski socks when starting this missive in August, yet London reached 25°C earlier this October! So how can we use communications to bring perception and behaviour change to help solve such apparently unsurmountable issues? Clichéd though it sounds, we devise PR strategies by thinking outside of the box to bring #FactsToLife. We explain complex information succinctly, based on in-depth research and precise messaging. Many campaigns we work on aim to mitigate the devastating effects of climate crisis, but always with a message of hope and an indication of ‘solution’. For 'hope based on fact' is key in our increasingly apocalyptic, cynical or obfuscating zeitgeist.
🌬🌬🌬 AIR 🌬🌬🌬
And the Songbirds keep Singing like they know the Score
One such example involves our work for charity, SongBird Survival, to publicise new scientific research conveying further proof of the devastating impact of pesticides on garden bird populations. The latest study we helped communicate was supervised by world bee expert, Professor Dave Goulson at The University of Sussex. It was the first of its kind to explore the effect of chemicals such as glyphosate, found in Roundup, on bird abundance. House sparrows are particularly at risk. Our team secured national and regional coverage about the study, including in The Guardian and a live interview by a charity spokesperson on BBC Radio Devon. The good news is there ARE alternatives to chemical pesticides, and the world is re-awakening to this fact. (See 'Earth' section below).
The Curious Case of the Cockapoo in the Cockpit
On another airy note, we continue working for Helicopter Film Services to publicise its expertise in filming aerial sequences for productions such as Indiana Jones And The Dial of Destiny and Disney’s The Little Mermaid. British Cinematographer magazine published a carefully-crafted case study of HFS's work on the latter using helicopter and drone. We delighted in seeing an interview with CEO, Jeremy Braben Assoc. BSC, in Makers, discussing the differences between drone and heli: when each are best deployed.
On a recent trip to the HFS hangar, we spotted a cheeky attempt by Harvey The HFS Cockapoo to grab the joystick for his first test flight. Sadly, his lack of opposable thumbs made it tricky. He remained grounded, though the CinemaDographer was overheard muttering ‘Four legs good’. No wings, even better, we say!
GROUND DOG DAY: American CinemaDographer Harvey attempts Test Flight
What goes through the air at the right frequency reaches our ears, be it on vinyl or radio. At the start of the year, we secured media interest in the predictions of Karen Emanuel, CEO of Key Production, about the physical music market in 2023. Her opinions were music to the ears of The Scotsman and BBC World, which covered the story.
This summer saw Karen joined the illustrious ranks of David Bailey and Amy Winehouse as a Listed Londoner on BBC Radio London, live with legendary DJ and city-obsessive, Robert Elms. Karen laid out the good, the bad and the ugly of her hometown: best pubs, most hated building, memorable gigs, and memories of skipping school to see Tottenham Hotspurs play. We look forward to November when Karen will go full revolution on the celebrations at Key's long-awaited 33 ⅓rd birthday!
The Ladies Who Rock lunch @ KOKO Camden: Karen Emanuel & Hannah Kapff,
representing mtnNOW, helped raise £40K for Teenage Cancer Trust
Blowing The Whistle on Crime & Corruption
Late '22 saw us attend the media première of excellent feature film She Said with Can't Buy My Silence. Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan play the New York Times reporters who exposed Harvey Weinstein's history of abuse against women, many of whom were silenced by the NDAs they'd signed, often when barely out of school or university. This led us to work with non-profit, WhistleblowersUK, attending events in UK Parliament as part of the first ever Whistleblowing Awareness Week. The week encourages discussions on whistleblowing and highlights the value of whistleblowers in the fight against crime, corruption and cover up. Media coverage appeared on BBC World, BBC One, The Daily Express, openDemocracy and HR Magazine. We are pleased that a new 'safe space' has just been formed to deal with NHS concerns, especially post the Lucy Letby murder trial: As reported in Personnel Today, The Health Services Safety Investigations Body, HSSIB, pledges that any testimony received by doctors, nurses or other medical staff will not be passed on to agencies such as the police or the General Medical Council unless a High Court rules it necessary.
Petition delivered: At 10 Downing Street, Hannah & Sophie joined
WhistleblowersUK with lawyers, Lesley Wan and Iain Mitchell KC
🌏🌏🌏 EARTH 🌏🌏🌏
Nature Needs a Boost: Biocontrol
Last year, we launched the first UK Soils Awareness Week. Our Winter 2022 Newsletter marvels on what lies beneath our feet in the 6 inches that grow 95% of our food. (A teaspoon of soil contains more organisms than people in the world!) UKSAW educated the public about soil health and we can't wait to see the forthcoming film, Six Inches Of Soil.
Fortunately, farmers are embracing alternatives to chemical pesticides, (which build up in soil), as are policy-makers. July saw the European Parliament pass the Nature Restoration Law whilst Greta Thunberg campaigned outside. This will set legally-binding targets for nature restoration in forest, freshwater, urban and marine areas.
This week held further good news. The European Parliament's ENVI Committee voted in favour of MEP Sarah Wiener's report on the SUR, the Sustainable Use Regulation, which included vital compromise amendments with provisions for an EU-wide definition for biocontrol and fast-track of authorisation procedures for biocontrol: good news for the International Biocontrol Manufacturers Association. We help the IBMA communicate the importance of biocontrol via social media and the media. So what is Biocontrol? It's a proven alternative to chemical pesticides that works by ‘using nature against nature.’ Think ladybirds munching aphids, or pheromones disrupting pest insect mating patterns. Biocontrol boosts biodiversity, but also soil and water quality: a win-win for people and planet. And biocontrol is a growing market, worth €1.4Bn in 2021 as explained by Jennifer Lewis, IBMA's Executive Director on World Business Report.
Indeed, areas such as Albufeira in Spain, where paella rice is grown, has hundreds of thousands of hectares under effective biocontrol management. The result? A tenfold increase in the number of aquatic nesting birds. Biocontrol does require a highly-trained, adaptive approach, but who has ever achieved anything truly sustainable via a ‘blunderbuss' approach? We see interesting parallels in the development of personalised medicine. The human body, like nature, is nuanced, complex and in constant flux.
🌊🌊🌊 WATER 🌊🌊🌊
Now onto the element of H2O. Most of us take our 'waterworks' for granted, but chronic kidney disease affects around 7.2m people in the UK, and 20 people a day develop kidney failure. Special thanks to Stephen Adam and Beezy Marsh who read Kidney Care UK's Priced Out Of Existence campaign, and reported the impact of soaring energy bills on patients having home dialysis, in Mail Online. This 'invisible' condition leaves patients bed-bound, cold, isolated and poor. Studies show that whilst home dialysis is cheaper, if patients can’t afford it, they end up going to hospital for treatment: not their first choice, and costlier overall. Kidney disease costs the NHS £1.5 billion a year, £1 in every £77 spent. We hope to help shed further light on CKD in the near future.
Saving Poros - the Greek island facing a Fish Farm Takeover
Still on our water theme, March saw us work with Brussels-based, environment policy and campaign expert, Joanna Sullivan, to spearhead a campaign to #SavePoros. Poros is a small, quaint island in the Bay Of Athens, above which hangs the sword of Damocles: A plan being considered by the Greek government which would expand by 28 times four small fish farms on the island, taking over ¼ of both coastline and mainland. This would lead to pollution of its pristine waters, as well as death for marine flora and fauna thanks to an estimated 16 tons a day of fish faeces and waste food if it goes ahead. That's waste equivalent to a town with 10 times Poros' 3,200 inhabitants.
SAVE POROS: Fay Orfanidou, Executive Director, Katheti on BBC News
We launched #SavePoros on World Oceans Day in June, and secured global media coverage in the likes of Euronews, Le Monde and BBC World News, which has 100m+ viewers a week. Fay Orfanidou at local non-profit cultural centre, Katheti, spoke passionately about the threat, standing beside Poros's glistening harbour. Later on, a première screening of the Saving Poros documentary (linked below) brought hundreds of islanders together: a record for this idyllic island, and testament to its passion to stop the mass expansion plan.
Our work on #SavePoros involves liaising with a range of experts and stakeholders, based on high quality research led by Katheti and the Long Island-based Rauch Foundation. Besides reaching the media, we help inform decision makers at EU level about the impact such plans would have on lives and livelihoods: A recent poll of the tourism-reliant residents on Poros and neighbouring Methana, shows 89% staunchly against plans to expand the farms. Furthermore, the environmental impact assessment (EIA) performed for the plan included critical errors in interpretation of the model used to determine its safety, leading to it being deemed 'safe' rather than ‘moderate to severe’. These facts were reported by The Fish Site for World Tourism Day, and by Solomon this week. Thank you to all who are helping highlight the issues surrounding the question of how to feed our growing population in ways that have minimal impact on lives, livelihoods and nature.
Saving Poros documentary by investigative reporter, Francesco De Augustinis
Say No To Neoprene
In September, our marine focus continued as we publicised an inspiring collaboration involving film-makers, marine conservation organisations and a Dutch fashion brand determined to make a difference. The subject? Surfing’s connection with the toxic production of Neoprene (a.k.a. chloroprene) - the fabric most wetsuits are made of.
The full story will be told via a forthcoming documentary, The Big Sea, which dives into the well documented public health crisis in Louisiana's town of Reserve. There men, women and children living near the Neoprene factory face a cancer risk 50x the national average! Yet wetsuits can be made from natural rubber such as Yulex, rather than fossil fuel-based Neoprene. So with the water wear worth $8bn a year, there's great potential for companies large and small to pivot to using a resource that's healthier and more sustainable: Firms such as WALLIEN pivoted, having heard about the scandalous situation.
Trailer: The Big Sea documentary
A special excerpt of the film was shown in Climate Week New York at an event hosted by United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) at Goals House, Central Park, to an audience of decision makers. Next, an expert panel debated how to move to a better future for our oceans. Chris Nelson, the film's Cornwall-based writer-producer spoke alongside Chris Gorell Barnes, Co-Founder of Blue Marine Foundation, Australian female pro surfer Nikki van Dijk, brand ambassador for WALLIEN, and the brand's founder, Madeleine Wallien.
Madeleine Wallien, Founder, WALLIEN, live to millions on BBC World News
It was a great privilege to help plan the panel with the supremely experienced Goals House team, and witness such collaboration in situ. Media coverage we generated included a BBC World News interview for Madeleine Wallien, Founder of her eponymous brand. Publicity about the film is creating a stir amongst industry players, which we hope leads to positive change. Going back to those 'C's in our intro: Collaboration around culture leads to positive change for communities!
UNITED FOR PEOPLE AND PLANET:
Nikki van Dijk, Pro Surfer | Chris Gorell Barnes, Co-Founder, Blue Marine Foundation |
Madeleine Wallien, WALLIEN | Chris Nelson, Film-maker
Work hard, play hard
After hard work comes reward, and we always make the most of what world cities have to offer. February for Brussels museums, June for the London Concours, sipping Veuve Clicquot on its 250th anniversary surrounded by stunning vintage cars, fruitful September meetings in New York, and who knows what else, as we head towards Christmas!
SWAINING ABOUT: 'Incidentals 2' photos by Alistair Guy @ Swaine Bond Street
Vintage Automotives @ The London Concours Hannah, Seda, Sophie + Kate
THE ART OF LIVING: The Royal Academy | High Tea @ Fortnum & Mason
Curious Conscience: Hannah Kapff, Jo Sullivan, Sophie Wesley, Kiara Flynn
Our trip to the Royal Academy Of Arts Summer Show was rounded off with lashings of tea and mountains of scones at Fortnum's. On Bond Street’s Swaine store, photographer, influencer and Curious friend, Alistair Guy, exhibited ‘Incidentals 2’ to an excited audience surrounded by delectable leather goods worthy of James Bond, Indiana Jones and their modern-day counterparts, who arrived in traffic-halting fashion.
We Are Family
We remain humbled to work with such prestigious and passionate clients and are proud our hard-working team has enabled us to hit an audience figure of ~12.7 billion since 2018 (monthly audience figures).
A heartfelt thank you to everyone involved in the work we take such pride in: clients, experts, brand ambassadors, charity supporters, members of the media, the Curious public worldwide. If we’re going to solve some of the biggest problems ever faced, as Sesame Street taught us, Cooperation is all. Since enjoying our team trip to witness Sister Sledge at the Royal Albert Hall this summer, we can't help echoing their simple message. "We Are Family."
Thank you for reading!
The Curious PR team