Going green and getting down to business

Going green has become second nature to many, a revelation that is not lost on the business world. An increased number of businesses are embracing environmental responsibility and incorporating green practices. To relay their “green story” to the consumer, Bellevue-based Washburn Communication works closely with their clients to help them communicate their environmental position. For the lead marketing consulting firm, going green is more than just a trend, environmental accountability is at the core of the company and its employees.

Washburn Communication President Dale Washburn

Going green has become second nature to many, a revelation that is not lost on the business world. An increased number of businesses are embracing environmental responsibility and incorporating green practices. To relay their “green story” to the consumer, Bellevue-based Washburn Communication works closely with their clients to help them communicate their environmental position. For the lead marketing consulting firm, going green is more than just a trend, environmental accountability is at the core of the company and its employees.

“For many of our clients, a developing part of their story is the environmental message,” explained Dale Washburn, president of Washburn Communication. “On the other side of that coin are the environmental companies who are making a specific play on environmental services.”

The firm works with clients on both sides. With environmental responsibility shifting to the forefront, Washburn Communication’s goal is to help businesses identify and crystalize their green message and effectively communicate that to the public.

On a recent trip to Globe2008, a conference that brings together corporate executives, government decision makers and leaders of the environmental industry, the marketing firm came across a slew of companies that lacked any mention of green or environmental practices in the way they presented themselves. Washburn Communication Director of Major Accounts, Chris Lemoine was astonished by how many businesses utilized green practices but failed to promote them.

“Some of these companies are extremely credible. They are very solid and then you realize, oh wow, if this product helps clean oil and fuel spills off the freeway in such a way that it won’t go into the ground and into the water that I am drinking- that is a fabulous thing for me and everybody in my community,” Lemoine explained.

“But they don’t make a big case out of it. They kind of let you come to your own conclusion. We help them showcase it in such a way that it’s effective to the people who make the decisions about these products.”

Lemoine first brought the initiative of green marketing to the company two years ago. “We don’t help companies get green, but whatever is green about them, in whatever way, we help tell that story,” Lemoine explained, who is the voice behind the companies ongoing green marketing blog. “I grew up in Europe in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s when the environment was as bad as it can get.” He lived in the town of Cologne located on the Rhine River that had become so poisonous, people were unable to eat anything that came from the river and taking a swim would likely result in some form of skin disease. “It’s something that I grew up with, living in a poisonous environment and it was something that I always cared about for very personal reasons.” Lemoine brought his passion for environmental issues and responsibility along with him when he joined the company.

More than ever, business practices that directly or indirectly effect the environment have been put under a magnifying glass. “What we’re finding in the last couple of years is that with any real blue chip company the visibility and scrutiny is such that they need to be able to explain their environmental position,” Washburn pointed out. “You just can’t be nuetural any more.”

The firm has found that in the case of software manufacturers, more and more are becoming sensitive to power and space requirements, heating and cooling, and power consumption. Working with many tech companies, one of the firms major clients eliminated lead from all manufacturing processes, above compliance requirements. “It’s looking beyond the business value and looking at the societal value of those products,” Washburn explained, adding that consumers are demanding environmentally responsible products and larger corporations are feeling the squeeze to ensure their supply chain is in line with their environmental practices. Although businesses are showing more signs of going green, marketing companies have been slow to embrace environmental positioning. Lemoine points to several key factors that contribute to the marketing industries hesitation, one being the huge investment in order to do quality work.

It’s a serious commitment because you need to educate yourself, your people, and sync it with your companies values, he explained. “We’ve spent the time, we’ve educated ourselves, it’s something we’ve committed ourselves to and it’s a major iniatitive for the company. We are small and very focused on the needs of our customers but also very focused on what we do as individual employees,” he said. “Our values come through in everything we do.”

Lindsay Larin can be reached at llarin@reporternewspapers.com or at 425-453-4602.


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