Many businesses are stepping up their environmental credentials and committing to real change. It’s an important and necessary development but getting sustainability comms right is a critical step in wider adoption and awareness. In this blog, we look at how to create impactful sustainability comms.
Establish what you want to achieve
Not knowing why you’re sending out a communication or not being clear on the action you want someone to take is the failing point of so many PR tactics. Sustainability is a broad and at times, complex topic which makes clarity of purpose all the more important. Here are some useful starter questions to ask before creating any sustainability messaging:
- What’s the immediate action I want people to take?
- How easy will it be for people to understand and perform this action?
- Do I have something in place which makes this process achievable?
- Will this communication form part of a longer-term campaign and has this been factored into the approach/design?
Setting up objectives gives you direction with what type of messages you want to share and how to share it. For example, maybe you want to increase sales of your sustainability product to businesses in a specific industry or location by 10% in 12 months. This could also lead you to set goals such as growing your LinkedIn page following by 5% in 6 months, gain press coverage in 3 industry magazines, or be featured on broadcast media.
Understand who you’re talking to and what matters to them
No two communications strategies should be exactly the same, but what should be consistent when developing your strategies is gaining an understanding of exactly who your audience is, which isn’t only your target customers but many different stakeholders. You need to be able to understand the different people in your audience and establish their levels of understanding of sustainability and where they are on their sustainability journey.
For example, a global, highly technical, business-to-business company working in the energy industry is going to have a different audience from that of a West Yorkshire electrical company. Each of these companies would have a very different approach, specifically tailored to their individual audiences.
One way to establish this is to invest in market research to identify your different audiences, their key characteristics and understand their position on the subjects you want to promote. Research is key when developing sustainability comms ideas that will actually resonate with your audiences. Below are some points to consider when doing so:
How is sustainability relevant to your audiences?
Understanding this is a must for effective sustainability comms. Maybe your audience is already aware and active in the area of sustainability and you know they will enjoy and engage with content, alternatively, is sustainability of little importance to your audience and will a ‘green’ message be lost?
What would your audience truly value?
This could be many things, depending on what your sustainability efforts relate to. For example, what value does your service/product provide, are you introducing something that could save them time or money, will it improve their social status?
Where is your audience most likely to interact with your communications?
Where does your audience spend their time and where do they get their information; social media, trade journals, consumer news? Do they wish to see different types of content, like audio and video?
How much does your audience understand of sustainability?
Pitching your communications at the right level and in the right tone for maximum impact relies upon knowing how much your audience understands of your topic – in this case sustainability. It’s also important to consider external factors which could affect how receptive your audience is to your communications.
What type of content would your audience engage with?
Would facts and figures be more appealing than emotional storytelling? Are real-life examples and case studies going to resonate the most? Decide whether written, audio, or visual content – or a mix of all three is the right delivery vehicle for your communication based on your audience research and demographics.
Sustainability is more than a popular buzzword, businesses are expected to understand sustainability issues, act on them and communicate this to their customers. In an age where more and more people will boycott a brand that isn’t acting sustainably and influence others to do the same, the way in which businesses communicate their sustainable credentials and approach needs to be more considered than ever.