How the ‘sea of plastic’ came to the top of the agenda

The issue of plastic waste has long been an issue, but why has it suddenly come to a head, and how? Organisations such as Green Peace, Project Aware, Sky Ocean Rescue, The Ocean Clean Up and more have long been stressing the issue of plastic waste in the ocean. With huge media campaigns asking for volunteers, continuous social media awareness posts and even press releases and media coverage, how has the ‘sea of plastic’ only just come to the top of the agenda?

Key influencers

Firstly, big names have recently highlighted the issue in mainstream media and this has helped it flood over into social media conversation and campaigns. The three years in the making, and long awaited by the public Blue Planet 2, brought these serious issues into the public eye on a mammoth scale in an interesting and mind-boggling TV series. Sharing these striking images on such a huge scale created urgency in resolving the issue which provoked social media chatter amongst the masses, and made other influencers sit up and notice. Sir David Attenborough even won the ‘Impact Award’ at the National Television Awards 2018 for bringing it to the public’s attention.

In addition to this, another influencer Sir Richard Branson launched ‘Ocean Unite’ and more specifically  the ‘The Ocean is Everybody’s Business’ initiative which engages the business community in taking concrete steps to raise awareness of ocean issues. With over 30 political and business leaders, and social media influencers, Branson is determined to secure a healthy Ocean for the future by encouraging action.

Seeing these big names advocate such an important issue helps to give ordinary people a voice and provides the public with the tools to start taking action on however small a scale.

Trending hashtag

The use of specific, relevant hashtags creates a social hub in which people can share and read what others have to say about the issue. Some trending hashtags and statistics include:

  • #PassOnPlastic – Reached nearly 6million users
  • #PlasticFreeCoastLines – Reached nearly 700,000 users

These influencers, the petitions they share via social media, and use of the trending hashtag put organisations and government under pressure to change and adapt policies – quickly. It was no longer an issue that could be ignored.  We have already seen:

  • Petition to ban the use of plastic straws in London
  • Consumer brands to use alternatives to plastic such as paper straws
  • Potentially upping the single-use plastic bag charge to 10p
  • Introducing a latte levy
  • The Queen bans single-use plastic on royal estates

This proves what an impact bringing an issue to the top of the agenda can have.

So, why is this important in content marketing best practice?

Ensuring that clients stay front of mind with issues that they are both directly and indirectly concerned with, ensures that they stay at the forefront of their audiences consciousness. Not all brands can be as influential as Attenborough or Branson, but they can take advantage when these influencers bring an issue into the spotlight. As the public are concerned with the issue it is important for a brand to:

  • Retweet and share influencers content around the issue
  • Comment on how the brand is aware of the issue and how they plan on implementing change (where relevant)
  • Get the right people/influencers associated with the brand

Even if the issue is nothing to do with a brand directly, when a big issue arises, to comment – or even just to retweet or share – gives brands credibility and exposure on working towards resolving important issues. If it means something to your audience, it should mean something to you.

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