By Anna McDermott

John Francis, former VP of research, conservation and exploration at the National Geographic
John Francis, former VP of research, conservation and exploration at the National Geographic

This article is not for millennials; it’s for Gen Xers and boomers. Those of you who are now too old to automatically qualify as cool just because of your age – this is for you! On an episode of The PR Maven® Podcast, Nancy Marshall spoke with John Francis, former VP of research, conservation and exploration at the National Geographic, about some recent trends around nature, like forest bathing and rewilding. I knew about forest bathing, but hadn’t heard of rewilding, a movement in Europe that’s starting to gain serious traction. I did some research and learned how rewilding is a progressive approach to conservation focused mainly on letting nature do its own thing – through actions like removing dams and reintroducing native species.

Marshall Communications works with the Maine Office of Tourism and Maine’s biggest draw for visitors is its natural beauty so learning about trends relating to conservation and nature is beneficial for our client – from forest bathing to rewilding. When asked what resource John has found helpful in his career, he was quick to share his favorite new app that is great for getting people out into nature – iNaturalist. It enables you to take a picture of a bug or plant or animal and find out what it is, and your input becomes part of a wide-scope research database. He said “When you begin to see the wonders of nature and start to learn, the next thing you know, you’re curious, and the next thing you know you care, and then you’re voting for a new urban park to bring kids closer to nature.” Here in Salt Lake City where I live, iNaturalist is being used by the Natural History Museum of Utah to study fox squirrels who are new to the state and the museum is encouraging residents to take photos of these squirrels so they can learn more about the new arrivals. They’re using the new app to accomplish two things: encourage people to get outside into their natural surroundings and learn more about the animal and its impact on the city.

Staying informed on whatever trends or hashtags that relate to your business or your clients’ businesses is a vital part of good PR and marketing. It means being “cool.” What is cool keeps changing and successful marketing often depends on reacting and participating in trends. Knowing about cool apps that can have a positive effect on your business is a must these days. It’s no longer enough to say “Well, I’m on Facebook.” You have to keep up with what’s new and hip. As millennials become a more vibrant part of the economy, you’ll want to know how to reach them. Take some time and update yourself on a regular basis about the latest trends in whatever industry you serve.

The PR Maven® Podcast is presented by Marshall Communications, creator of The Marshall Plan® strategic process. The Marshall Plan is a fully customized document using our 65 proprietary steps and leads to playbook for your success. If you think your business or organization would be a candidate for a Marshall Plan, you can take our Marshall Plan quiz to find out. Visit

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