As a business, sustainability and ESG will be on your agenda. You’ll of course publish reports and perhaps even create brochures dedicated to your policies and progress. But are you sharing your story as effectively and creatively as possible? And how else can you tell the world about your valuable efforts without taking the life out of it?
As we all know, sustainability in business is not just about the environment. It’s about the broader impact of an organisation across a broad selection of criteria from ethics to the community to wider society, and it’s a priority for investors, partners and consumers alike.
Consumer engagement now extends beyond the product or service that they’re buying (or buying into); today, your entire company ethos comes into question when a consumer is deciding to spend their money with you or your competitors. Which means that you need to have a clear message acknowledging these factors and outlining what you’re doing about it. But if you want to encourage others to join you on your journey, you need to make your sustainability comms engaging. Here’s how…
Start by making your mission clear, sit down with your team and define your sustainability goals and priorities. Have a clear vision of what sustainability means to your company and keep it simple and practical. Focus on two to three major issues that most clearly align with your agenda. If you don’t know where to begin, consider what green practices your company is already committed to. How extensive is your recycling programme? Do you have an efficiency objective for energy and water? This will provide the foundation for your sustainability story. Also, make sure that you have a clear narrative which resonates with your brand identity, because being genuine lays the groundwork for effective communication.
Get the team on board
Underscore the importance of sustainability to your employees through events, awards programmes or site visits so that the importance of acting sustainably really resonates. If your sustainability story is clearly understood internally within your company then it’ll radiate credibility to potential investors and customers.
Accentuate the seriousness of the issue you’re working towards resolving and remember to reference the gravity of what’s at stake. Perhaps your tone for sustainability-related assets should be softer and more emotive. Emphasise that it’s an issue too big for any individual to tackle and communicate that ‘it’s an honour to be doing our part’ rather than ‘look how great we are’.
Keep it audience specific
But don’t forget who you’re addressing. Be sure to tailor your sustainability story to your audience, identify what your audience finds important and promote that aspect. And keep it as unique as you can – in other words don’t ‘greenwash’ it! The voice communicating your sustainability story should be the same as your brand (while staying appropriate to the subject) and your mission statement should reflect your company’s areas of expertise. This way, your sustainability initiatives will be most likely to succeed and your stakeholders will seamlessly link your efforts with your brand identity.
Consistency is key
A coherent narrative should be present on all the platforms you use to share your sustainability story, from meetings with your employees to social media to third-party sites representing your brand. Define your hero messages – these are the short, catchy phrases or acronyms that communicate your sustainability commitment. And naturally, it will also be worth having a part of your website dedicated to your sustainability story.
Get out there
Customers buy into your words and actions, so being vague and cryptic about your sustainability story won’t help. Be direct about the changes that your company is making (or endeavours to make) to reduce its environmental impact and emphasize why these changes are important. If possible, recruit others to your cause by sponsoring a charitable organisation or partnering up with another business and telling your story together. Inaction won’t inspire confidence; get out there and evidence your claims.
And most importantly…
Use all your tools to creatively frame the debate. Once you’re clear on what sustainability means for your organisation, communicate it! Use social media, content marketing, advertising and be sure to include photos and videos as often as possible. Don’t keep your sustainability programme hidden in your Annual Report as an afterthought, make it a part of your company’s identity. The best way to do this is through engaging language and effective design.
There are various tools you can use and imaginative ways you can share your business’ sustainability story and captivate your audience. Commission an animation to talk about your business’ journey and progress. Take to social media with eye-catching GIFs to highlight key sustainability messages. Perhaps create a suite of handy cards to share with the team and demonstrate how your company lives and embodies your sustainability campaign. A podcast is the perfect opportunity to talk to different partners and bring people on board with your sustainability initiatives. Virtual Reality, a short film, webinars – the possibilities are endless!
As Stephanie Schwartz wisely said during the BSR conference; “sustainability stories are most powerful when they share one of three attributes: They are personal, they connect to the big picture, and they paint a positive picture of the future.”
Ultimately, it’s about sharing your story and bringing people with you on your journey towards a better future. You have the opportunity to make a difference, so what are you waiting for?
Get a feel for our agency, our work and what we’re all about at https://sim7creative.co.uk/about-us/ And if you’d like to talk about communicating your ESG or sustainability story more effectively get in touch! firstname.lastname@example.org