Survey says: EPA under Scott Pruitt is less trusted; companies should stay the course

by | Feb 24, 2017

As a regular reader of our work, you received a short poll earlier this week intended to help us gauge your perceptions of the EPA in the wake of Scott Pruitt’s confirmation. American consumers also received this poll.

Our aim here was to put some data and insights behind the advice we’ve been giving via this blog and privately to our clients. That advice, summarized in last week’s blog post, has been: “Stay the course and then change the course.” In other words, you shouldn’t waver from your commitments to the environment and, in fact, you should step them up – consumers expect it, and they’ll continue to put their wallets where their values are. We’ve also been curious ever since Scott Pruitt was named to lead the EPA what that would mean for overall trust in the agency. When he was confirmed last Friday, we decided to find out.

Now, this wasn’t our standard Pulse study sample, surveying 2,000 Americans with quotas to mirror the latest Census Bureau numbers and a +/-2% margin of error. This was a quick Pollfish overnight poll of U.S. mobile app users. But it’s a good sample. We’re right-on from an income and education standpoint, and we got an even representation of age groups. The only places where we’re off slightly is in geographic distribution and political affiliation (it skewed a little Midwestern and a hair more Democrat – see the methodology, and the topline findings, here). Overall, this sample of 400 Americans gets us to within a +/-5% margin of error. And our poll of Shelton Insights readers, while not representative of business decision makers across the board, gathers input from people who are very knowledgeable about the environment: sustainability, energy and built environment professionals.

The numbers in both polls are very striking – even with a little bias baked in. The story is this:

  • Scott Pruitt’s got a lot of work to do. Respondents say that under his leadership, the EPA is far less trusted than it was before – both in terms of environmental protection and as a source for facts about the environment.
  • Americans see NGOs picking up the slack. They’re expected to do even more to protect the environment and to disseminate the facts on climate change.
  • Companies are expected to stay the course. Continue to prioritize reducing GHG emissions and investing in renewable energy.

Obviously, there’s a great opportunity for NGOs to be the real leaders on the environment, and it will be interesting to see which one emerges in the next four years as the go-to source for action and facts. There’s also an opportunity for companies to reassure all of us that they are unwavering in their commitments to reducing environmental impact – and build their brands in the process.

So my advice from last week remains: stay the course … and then up your game and change the course for the better for us all.

If you’re interested, here are the topline findings from both polls.

About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

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Suzanne Shelton

President and CEO

Suzanne is the voice and the vision of Shelton Group. Drawing on her extensive experience in energy and the environment – and 25+ years in the marketing and advertising industry – Suzanne provides high-level strategic insights for our clients and guidance for our research and creative departments. She regularly speaks at conferences around the country, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and the International Builders’ Show, and serves as a guest columnist for publications like Fast Company, Green Builder and GreenBiz.com.

Susannah Enkema

VP Research & Insights

Susannah directs our research team and plays a key role in extracting the nuggets of information that pave the way for recommended marketing strategies and creative approaches. Susannah has nearly two decades of market research and strategy experience, including her role as president of SE Consulting, where she led the services for the likes of DIY Network and the makers of GORE-TEX®.

Laila Waggoner

VP Client Engagement

Laila leads our client engagement process, overseeing activities from both a strategic and a tactical level to ensure our work generates desired results – and clients’ satisfaction. She brings 25+ years of marketing leadership experience to her client relationships, with particular expertise in the homebuilding and remodeling industries as well as member-driven organizations, such as the Vinyl Siding Institute and Plastics Pipe Institute. Before joining Shelton Group, she led strategic marketing teams for Owens Corning’s insulation business.

Matt Brass

VP Creative

Matt steers the creative department in concepting, designing and producing campaigns. He ensures sound strategy and deep insights inform everything his team develops, and works closely with the accounts department to ensure copy and designs will meet our clients’ goals. As a designer and filmmaker himself, he’s also a principal contributor to all of Shelton’s in-house photography and videography work.

Glen L. Vesser III

VP Finance and Administration

Glen manages Shelton Group’s finances and administration, ensuring our internal systems run smoothly so we can provide exceptional client service in a seamless and timely manner. Glen’s financial and administrative expertise has been shaped by decades of experience in a variety of industries, including public accounting, media distribution and health care.

Mike Beamer

VP Business Development

Mike joined our team to help provide strategic vision and foster our agency’s growth by overseeing new business leads and managing agency marketing and website content. He arrived in Knoxville steeped in energy efficiency and renewables – he previously led client service for an agency division in Boston dedicated to marketing communications strategy and branding for B2B and B2C clients in that space.