Having recently been asked what I do as an “environmental communicator”, I thought I’d pen a few words to help clarify the role for people who might be interested in this fascinating field.
Basically, an environmental communicator puts excellent writing and speaking skills to use in the development and delivery of organisational or public-facing communication strategies.
There is always a clear objective in our work, for example, we may be asked to develop a complex media campaign or simple communication tool that aims to garner community support to protect local waterways, lush rainforests or threatened ecosystems.
We might be asked to develop a program that informs people about urgent environmental issues such as climate change and its impacts on the local or global community.
Increasingly, our communication works toward changing human behaviours to protect the environment or live more sustainably.
An environmental communicator is frequently asked to perform a range of tasks. These might include, building communication strategies that inform clearly defined target audiences about an organisation’s environmental policies, goals, business activities etc; creating audio-visual products (including websites, videos, photos), print and press communication tools (from press releases to brochures) that highlight certain actions for sustainability or promote natural values and conservation efforts; writing stories for diverse media, ranging from blogs like this to newspaper features or radio shows and Acting as a spokesperson for an environmental organisation or project. Recently, for example, I’ve delivered numerous presentations about a major Indigenous project I’ve been working on with Aboriginal elders and local government.
Environmental communicators can work independently (freelance) or within a wide range of organisations – from local governments to large environmental consultancy firms. As a freelance environmental communicator, you can work on projects where you collaborate with all levels of government and diverse media outlets (such as newspapers and magazines, radio and TV stations, online publishers). You’ll almost certainly come in contact with sustainability consultants, environmental advocacy organisations, nature parks and reserves, as well as assorted museums, heritage centres, cultural venues, and a wide range of community groups.
There isn’t yet a huge array of university courses that specialise in environmental communication. As a specialist field, environmental communication requires a hybrid of knowledge between environmental management and science, the social sciences and communication arts. I completed an undergraduate degree in communication studies and postgraduate study in environmental education. I’ve also focused my specialisation further through continuing study and practice in film and television production. My particular expertise is screen-based environmental education and communication for sustainability.
Personally, I love my job! My work in environmental communication is deeply satisfying. I get to apply the knowledge and skills I’ve gained through previous work and study in a field that I know offers a meaningful contribution to my local community and the world at large.
So if you’re looking for a career start or a career change, then consider environmental communication as an option. It’s a great way to earn a living and help save the planet while you’re at it.
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