It takes a licking and keeps on ticking
We are not sure what day TreeHugger actually went live, but everyone had been working for months, so years ago we agreed that August 1 should be declared TreeHugger's birthday. When it started, it was all short posts about stuff; one commenter noted, "The funniest thing about this is that you guys honestly say that the site started as propaganda for green merchandise."
In 2012 we became part of the Narrative Content Group, who have been our lifeline through difficult times. Also so much credit is due to Melissa Breyer, who picked up the editorial baton after Meaghan O'Neill and me, and does the hard work that keeps this boat afloat.I was going to write a whole new post for this day, but five years ago I was so sunny and positive and covered it all. TreeHugger has changed, I have changed, the world has changed. So read this instead, which tells the whole story: Happy Birthday, TreeHugger
Margaret Badore interviewed Graham Hill on our 10th birthday and it is still very interesting.
Tell us about your goals when you started TreeHugger?
Graham Hill: I was largely just frustrated by the state of environmental media at that point. I felt environmentalism—environmental media—was mostly about “No” and was mostly owned by the hippies. We love the hippies, but they’re mostly a very small category and it was basically inspired by fear. In my mind I put it together and I could see this really exciting, cool, green future that would appeal with people way beyond the hippies. It would appeal to people that would wear a collared shirt in the city.
Years ago I met a former editor of the Wall Street Journal, who was starting a new news website. I approached him after a lecture he was doing and suggested that we might be able to work together covering environmental issues. His response was, "Why would I possibly want to work with a site with a name like TreeHugger?" For the advertising departments, it has always been a problem, and I recall being asked a couple of times, "Couldn't we just change the name?" But Graham was defiant:
It’s a funny name for sure. One big pro is that it’s extremely memorable. If you talk to someone at a party, it’s something that you’re going to remember. And that in itself is worth a lot, and the non-profit and do-gooder area I think has suffered for a very long time with boring, acronym-oriented names, and it’s just not memorable. TreeHugger has some flavor to it, and it’s fun. TreeHugger was never really “tree-hugger,” and that was the whole point. If you had actually been to TreeHugger you got it. So it was a way of taking back the name in a way. So, I love the name. I think it helped our success.
Does it have cons? Certain people and certain advertisers will just not be interested just because of that without giving it a chance, and that’s sad and unfortunate. Would I change it? Listen, names are the hardest thing in the whole world. It's hard to get the name and the right url. It’s just really, really tough. I certainly don’t have an idea off the top of my head for what I would have called TreeHugger now. But yeah, I love the name.
Read it all here and watch the video: