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[Episode #228] – Public Persuasion

Most climate communicators emphasize the risk of climate change, in the belief that if only people understood how dangerous it is, they would do something about it.

But what if terrifying messages about rising sea levels and life-threatening weather events have the opposite effect? What if they only serve to turn people off, rather than motivate them to act?

And what kinds of messages do resonate with people and get them interested in taking action on climate and participating in the energy transition?

In this episode, we are joined by the Jessica Lu, the Associate Director of Strategy and Analytics with Potential Energy’s Insights Lab. Her team has used established market research techniques to test various messages to unearth what motivates humans to care about climate change. The insights she shares with us are simultaneously surprising and obvious, suggesting much more successful strategies for climate communications.

Because we feel that this information is critically important for all climate communicators to understand, we decided to make this episode one of our occasional lagniappe shows and put it in front of the paywall so that subscribers and nonsubscribers alike can enjoy it. So, nonsubscribers, now you can see what you’ve been missing! And we hope you will all share this episode widely with your friends and colleagues.


Jessica Lu is Associate Director of Strategy and Analytics and leads Potential Energy’s Insights Lab. She leads teams that execute hundreds of message tests and focus groups and perform in-market measurement analytics to unearth what motivates humans to care about climate change.

Prior to PE, Jessica was an analyst at the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, supporting entrepreneurs building innovative, non-profit startups and social enterprises to solve gnarly social issues. She graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering.

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Recording date: May 17, 2024

Air date: July 10, 2024

Geek rating: 1