Updated: Oct 13, 2020
A couple of years ago, I started wondering how I could add more value to my field of expertise. I realized that the fusion of communications and sustainability provided great potential for making the world a better place.
Connecting my values with professional goals brought me to the mission of communicating and spreading the principles of sustainability. For me, this means living our lives to honour the definition of “sustain”:
“To make or allow something to continue for a period of time” or “to provide support for an idea, statement, legal argument, etc.” [Source: Cambridge Dictionary]
Let’s explore the importance between PR and communications in sustainability, including certified B-corporations, as an example of well communicated businesses working towards a better future.
The importance of Public Relations to sustain a message
CHECK 1: Clear & realistic OBJECTIVES
In a world characterized by a shift towards inclusivity, the fight against climate change and greater gender equality, investments that are purely focused on generating income belong to an increasingly distant past. Companies must assume an active role to achieve engagement with their stakeholders, being transparent, and defining the socio-environmental values that drive their actions.
CHECK 2 Know and listen to your STAKEHOLDERS
The more you know about a stakeholder’s profile, the better you will understand their lifestyle, and be better prepared to talk with them. Let’s look closer into some consumer behaviour tendencies to understand the need for sustainable practice and communication:
Today's consumer trusts the opinion of third parties significantly, even if they are strangers. This finding explains the growth of recommendation systems such as Airbnb and Ifood evaluations. This translates to trust and transparency becoming the new currency.
Actors that know a lot about a certain subject. These are the so-called digital influencers, professionals who share their personal tastes and opinions with the public. Digital influencers have the power to dictate trends and transform the opinions of potential clients.
Appreciation of the environment, sustainability and the correct use of natural resources are key values of today’s stakeholders and consumers. The future of humanity is a real concern to them. Ecologically correct products are preferred by consumers. And it is not a concern limited to the natural environment, but also people and society.
When confirming a purchase, the modern consumer hopes for complete security. Sites must provide verifiable security certificates, attesting to the integrity of the operation. Information must be clear, and reflect \the product or service sold as accurately and transparently as possible.
CHECK 3: PLAN based on your Core Identity and Values
The more you know about a stakeholder’s profile, the better you will understand their lifestyle, and be better prepared to talk with them. Let’s look closer into some consumer behaviour tendencies to understand the need for sustainable practice and communication: understand if the business is being coherent. This professional or area is in charge of constantly investigating, making modifications and evaluating the reputation and results of the business’ actions and communications, in a circular process which retro aliments itself. This process is held in relation with each stakeholder separately to understand the needs and wants of each group of influence.
The opposite to good communication is “Greenwashing” which is portraying an environmentally responsible image without the responsible actions to sustain it.
CHECK 4: Communicate with PURPOSE
Bcorps and the importance of amplifying good practices
Certified B Corporations are a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit. This is a community of leaders, driving a global movement of people using business as a force for good. B Corporations and thousands of other companies measure their socio-environmental management based on five areas of impact, which are: customers, workers, governance, environment and community. These five are traditional stakeholders of any business, organization or individual, which the communications department or professional takes care of listening and improving relations with, sustaining the bonds.
There are currently over 2,500 Certified B Corporations in more than 50 countries. We invite you to check how different sectors are working towards change.
Check out some B Corporations creating impact through their daily activities:
Sustainable Fashion: Las Polleras de Agus (Peru)
Las polleras de Agus connects their passion, respect for Peruvian identity. Seeking to reclaim traditional garments and incorporating them into contemporary fashion.
Water company: Pura (Argentina)
Pura have the purpose of purifying water, reducing global warming, and giving access to drinking water to more people every day, working closely towards reach the SDG 6 and SDG 17 goals.
Technology for social impact: Dimagi (USA)
Dimagi offers mobile solutions for international development based in Massachusetts, USA but acting in more than 60 countries
Carbon offset solutions: Tasman Environmental Markets (Australia)
TEM delivers carbon offset solutions that help businesses take action in addressing climate change and reduce their carbon footprint.