I was chatting to a marine retailer a week or so ago who is keen to become a Sea-Changer business and work with us to raise money for marine conservation. As a surfer, he was so passionate about the sea that working with us seemed, to him, such an obvious choice. On the same day I spoke to a number of other marine retailers who showed no interest in the work we are doing at all. They listened to how Sea-Changers works with businesses, the potential benefits to their business in becoming involved and the difference we are hoping to make to marine conservation. At the end of the conversation one said “That sounds like a good idea but it is not relevant for us, thanks for calling”.
Alongside this I have friends and family who have been really supportive in principle of our work at Sea-Changers but show no interest in the issues surrounding marine conservation. One friend told me recently: “I do love the sea but I’m not really that interested in marine conservation”. To an extent I do I respect that view – we are all different and feel passionate about different things. I certainly have no right to insist that others care about something, just because I do. But this all leads me to the same questions, which I am struggling to answer, and which are fundamental to our approach and future success at Sea-Changers:
What makes people who enjoy the sea (and may make their living from it) care enough to engage in and contribute to its health and conservation? or
What turns a sea enthusiast or a marine retailer into someone who cares enough to support the cause?
If Sea-Changers is really going to succeed, then figuring out the answer to this is essential. We need marine businesses to see the health of the oceans as relevant to their success and, we need sea-users to want to give back to the ocean. So if you can answer that question ….. post your thoughts below. So here are my initial ideas for engaging people in marine conservation:
- Shouting very loudly “We need to do something and we need to do it now”;
- Dressing up as a turtle for the next year and wandering around handing out information to all and sundry;
- Mentioning the issues affecting the oceans in all future conversations I have – from the hairdresser, to the queue at the supermarket;
- Having a tattoo listing the problems facing our oceans tattooed on my forehead, so everyone I meet can read about it…
Okay, I know there are better ways…..and I may sound desperate. But that is because we are facing a crisis. The seas will be more or less empty of fish within our lifetimes if we don’t act and less than 1% of charitable giving in the UK currently goes towards this issue. But maybe the negative messages don’t work….too much doom and gloom. So, instead perhaps we need to focus on a more constructive and positive approach. This might include:
- Communicating the positive business case for why supporting marine conservation really does make sense for marine based businesses.
- Explaining that the work we support can make a massive difference to creating cleaner oceans and beaches and saving endangered marine species.
- Reminding sea-users of all the lovely moments they have in or on the sea, and how important a clean, healthy and abundant sea is to their life.
- Gently pointing out that supporting us will ensure continued enjoyment and continued profit from the seas.
In short, I’d love your views – what should the balance be between the positive and negative side of our story? Should we emphasise the good the bad or the ugly?