Green Muting – 24-hour news cycles and jaded audiences keep us quiet

Green MutingAs an increasing number of businesses recognize the importance of being green(er) and the marketing value of green messages, we have seen the rise of both “green washing” and “green muting.” The Greenwashing Index defines green washing as “when a company or organization spends more time and money claiming to be ‘green’ through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact. It’s whitewashing, but with a green brush.”

Green-muting, on the other hand, is when businesses don’t talk about the positive environmental choices they are making. Joel Makower introduced me to both concepts in a presentation he gave a few years ago. I continue to encounter both in my personal and professional lives, most recently during a client meeting.

In this case, we spent the day with Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation (OTE Corp), discussing what’s next in marketing and PR as the company works to make a serious mark on the global energy landscape, starting in the Bahamas. As we discussed the rapid succession of MOUs and agreements being signed and drafted with a variety of customers ranging from the US Government to African, Carribean and Asian governments and energy companies, the room practically hummed with the giddy sense of possibility.

The giddiness was less about billion-dollar markets than about the extraordinary change this company and OTEC technology will make for often-disadvantaged populations and governments that struggle to obtain energy (never mind clean energy), potable water, and jobs.

We talked about various ways to publicize these possibilities — how do you let the world know you’re doing a good thing? Could we dovetail with some of the themes and people leading “Occupy Wall Street” and other Occupy movements? Would they understand that this energy company, with its triple-bottom-line focus, is different from the profiteering corporations and their leaders who seem to suck energy away from people and planet?

Many good ideas surfaced, yet I was struck most strongly by my own concerns about how a the 24-hour news cycle and a jaded public might find ways to misinterpret OTE Corp’s actions and intentions. I’ve understood the concept of green muting for several years, and have seen examples in businesses large and small. Yet I’ve never experienced the urge to do it myself. Perhaps the Occupy movement will help change the landscape and, eventually, create a world where corporations earn a more trusting public.


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Boston's Mower office is a full-service technology marketing, PR and branding agency. Our B2B stories illustrate projects and campaigns in a variety of markets and media that range from local impact in Boston and New England to global proportions.


  1. Hi Gents,

    Do you think such a “green mutting” on the OTEC clean tech route is reinforced by the lack of both public knowledge and support from governments as to other RE routes like solar, wind, biofuels, and biomass?

    Vicente Fachina

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