PR Roundup: Earth Day Behaviors, PRSA Tackles Misinformation, Dove Says No to AI Ads

This week’s PR Roundup features new Earth Day research in regards to remote work and corporate perceptions, the launch of PRSA’s Tackling Misinformation guidebook, and Dove’s pledge against AI advertising.

Eco-Friendly Behaviors Easier for Remote Workers

What happened: Bospar released its new Earth Day survey on April 4, showcasing that eco-friendly work is more “automatic” at home. 

The research, gathered in partnership with Propeller Insights, focuses on the amount of green habits workers exercise in regards to their work location. Of those surveyed, 95% of respondents who work remotely say they are working more eco-friendly. 

The top actions for this environmentally-sound behavior from home included:

  • 55%: Eating more at home vs. ordering in 
  • 48%: Recycling and composting
  • 47%: Using more natural light or energy-efficient lights 
  • 42%: Eliminate single-use plastics 

And working from home may just be easier for helping to reduce a carbon footprint. The research shows that only 7% of those who commute take public transit, and 66% drive. Only 6% commute by foot and 4% bike. 

Communication takeaways: The research also acknowledges employees’ hypocrisy detectors—particularly for companies enforcing return-to-work policies while pushing Earth Day agendas. Fifty-eight percent of Gen Zers said it was hypocritical to observe Earth Day and force people to commute. That narrative also echoed as a wrong approach for 52% of Millennials. 

“Earth Day is now a test of optics for brands,” says Curtis Sparrer, Principal and Co-founder of Bospar.  “Companies actively enforcing return-to-office policies risk appearing inauthentic and clueless if they try to greenwash during Earth Day. You can’t have your RTO cake and save the planet, too.” 

In fact, 77% of those surveyed said working from home was better for the planet.

“The results of the research reveal that workers don’t even need to try to be better stewards of the Earth while working from home,” Sparrer says. “It’s built in. However, it’s encouraging to see so many people taking those natural advantages and building on them with additional proactive measures on Earth Day.” 

​​PRSA Tackling Misinformation Guidebook

What happened: In November 2023, PRSA brought together more than two dozen senior communicators, news media representatives and academics for an in-person roundtable discussion on mis- and disinformation. What followed included online meetings and discussions with researchers and subject matter experts, leading to the creation of an original guidebook built to manage the problem.  

PRSA released “Tackling Misinformation: The Communications Industry Unites” on April 4, to educate communicators and show them how to learn from those at the root of misinformation. The guidebook and overall effort are also designed to:

  • Educate consumers and stakeholders to change behaviors so that detecting misinformation becomes more intuitive and become better equipped to self-correct it when seen.
  • Encourage the industry to work together like never before—from cross-communications-industry partnerships to supporting community and special interest groups fighting misinformation at multiple levels.

Communication takeaways: Ray Day, 2024 PRSA Chair-elect, and Vice Chair of Stagwell, says PRSA decided to create this guide because of the organization's core objectives to publicly champion ethical practices and professional standards in communications. 

“To us, this means taking a very active role and leading the way in addressing tough challenges,” Day says. “Misinformation today is, in fact, one of the biggest threats to our profession—and to society and democracy itself.”

Day says while many have been talking about the topic for some time, PRSA saw the need to bring people together and take action—starting with the publication of the guidebook. 

“Our vision is to create a societal movement against misinformation powered by the experience, talent and diversity of the entire communications industry,” he says. “The guidebook provides the framework for the…initial steps each of us can immediately take to turn talking about misinformation into action.”

You do not have to be a PRSA member to download the guidebook. Find more information here

Dove Says No to AI in Ads

What happened: Dove, a company known for challenging unrealistic standards of beauty, most notably through its now 20-year-old Real Beauty campaign platform showcasing “real bodies,” has pledged to not use AI-generated imagery to represent women in its advertising and communications.

The brand revealed its position via a new campaign, dubbed The Code, that supports its long-standing commitment to “keep beauty real.” The spot features women submitting simple prompts to AI image generators—like the phrase “a gorgeous woman”—and encountering results that reveal cultural biases. The ad then reveals what could happen when AI is prompted to show images “according to a Real Beauty ad,” which produces a more diverse and realistic array of women.

Dove is not the first brand to take a stand on AI bias toward women. Last week, we wrote about how consumer period underwear brand Thinx, in its “GetBodyWise” campaign, illustrates how AI can characterize women’s health issues as shameful, as a result of how the AI was trained.

To mark the Real Beauty campaign's 20th year, Dove also conducted a global study in partnership with Edelman that examined how people’s perception of beauty has evolved since the platform launched. It revealed that 39% of women surveyed feel pressure to alter their appearance because of what they see online, even if they are aware that the images are fake or AI-generated, and that 73% of women feel more pressure to be beautiful than they did eight years ago.

Taking it a step further, the beauty brand established a Real Beauty Prompt Playbook to help users craft AI prompts that help the technology generate more realistic and attainable images of women.

Communication takeaways: The move is the latest brand response to the conversation surrounding AI's impact on shaping cultural norms. While some companies have embraced the use of AI in advertising, to mixed reviews, Dove’s anti-AI stance exemplifies a more critical view of the technology’s role in influencing cultural values.

It’s also a proactive one. According to Lana McGilvray, Founder and CEO, Purpose Worldwide, communicators have a responsibility to adapt to what their audiences are experiencing in the current moment. It's important to consider the effect that “AI, bias in AI and the impact that real, artificial and other forms of data and technology are having on our world," she says. “As communicators, we must always consider how our brands, purpose and messages will be received in the context of what the audiences we serve are experiencing at any given time.”

McGilvray applauds Dove for joining the conversation and standing by its mission. “In Dove's case, its brand purpose and outstanding purist position as a brand for humanity, and particularly for women, is strong and clear.”

In regard to the backlash that brands have experienced for using AI in its advertising, McGilvray says that it’s important to be watchful of AI’s influence on culture. “Those watching the use and impact of AI across environments, from advertising to politics, are right to observe—as things are still nascent. To look the other way before we've had time to build best practices—and deliver on the giant opportunity and awe-inspiring things AI is already doing—would be irresponsible. We need to have fun, be creative and invent with our AI co-pilots. But we must do so with a purpose beyond profit.”