As you may have noticed by now, sustainability is important to us! That’s why helping companies on their sustainability journey and offering sustainability communications is absolutely key to our service offering. In order to give you a better understanding of what sustainability communications entails, we’ll be delving into it in the following three part series:
Sustainability Communications (Part 1) – What is it Anyway?
Sustainability Communications (Part 2) – Our Client Case Studies
Sustainability Communications (Part 3) – 5 Companies Getting it Right
Let’s Kick Off:
In order to understand what sustainability communications is, you need to understand what a sustainability journey is first.
What is a sustainability journey?
As soon as a company (or person) makes a commitment to try and take a more sustainable path, they have embarked upon a sustainability journey. We believe that sustainability isn’t a goal that can be achieved or destination to be reached. It is rather an ongoing journey which takes constant commitment and work.
Some of the basic aspects of a sustainability journey include (but are not limited to) implementing:
- Better waste management practices
- Energy and water efficiency
- Mindful procurement
- Employee health and engagement
- Community upliftment
When it comes to a company implementing these aspects, all require strategy, implementation and effective communication.
This bring us to sustainability communications:
This is the process of communicating sustainability in an educative and sincere manner internally (to employees and stakeholders) and externally (to clients,consumers and the public). This is done by using creative tools such as design, copywriting, photography and videography in a style unique to a company’s corporate identity.
1.) Communicating Internally
Communicating sustainability internally is an essential part of motivating and educating employees to assist a company in reaching their sustainability milestones and creating a ripple of change into the lives and homes of employees outside of work. The alignment, engagement and enthusiasm of employees, in all departments and on all levels, are essential to the success and credibility of a sustainability initiative.
These communications can include things like:
- Strategically placed signage
- Workshop training sessions
- Employee engagement campaigns and competitions
- Internal newsletters and notice boards
- Explainer videos
2. Communicating Externally
Doing good does deserve being spoken about. BUT it’s so important that sustainability is not simply used as a marketing campaign. With sustainability becoming more and more important to consumers, how sustainability is communicated is also becoming more significant.
How a company communicates their sustainability is very dependent on the type of company and what they offer or sell. However, there are three key things we believe should form part of all external communications strategies:
Action and commitment!
Not doing anything of merit? Don’t even try include sustainability into your communications. Anything you say must be backed up by real actions and long-term plans.
Transparency, sincerity and humility
It’s okay to admit your mistakes and where you still need to improve. Being honest about what you’re doing (and not doing yet) or even where you slipped up is what makes for real sustainability communications that your stakeholders will appreciate. Don’t make bold claims (that can’t be backed up) or overstate the work you’ve done on your journey.
Factual correctness (Educate)
Communicating sustainability is all about educating your stakeholders. We believe making factually correct, detailed information available about your initiatives, as well as breaking it down into smaller, more understandable bite sized chunks is equally important.
Why is it important?
Farrell, S. (2015). Thrivability Report. 1st ed. [ebook] Cape Town: Hotel Verde, pp.25, 26, 27, 28. Available at: https://www.hotelverde.com/uploads/ThrivabilityReport.pdf [Accessed 2 Jul. 2018].
Oxender, M. (2018). Behaviour Change: The Power of Simple Messaging. [online] sustainablebrands.com. Available at: http://www.sustainablebrands.com/news_and_views/behavior_change/monique_oxender/behaviour_change_power_simple_messaging?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=brandsweekly&utm_campaign=jun7 [Accessed 2 Jul. 2018].
Rabin, E. (2005). Inside Out: Sustainability Communication Begins in the Workplace. [online] GreenBiz. Available at: https://www.greenbiz.com/news/2005/07/31/inside-out-sustainability-communication-begins-workplace [Accessed 2 Jul. 2018].