Businesses need to understand how to communicate sustainability in a way that not only conveys environmental initiatives, but enhances the internal and external brand.
However, communicating sustainability is about more than information. Effective communications change behavior, while information alone does not always lead to action.
Effectively communicating sustainability is about attractive campaigns that make sustainable lifestyles fashionable and cool without being superficial. Marketing support including a logo, advertising, video and presentations can also help to communicate sustainability.
Effective strategies for sustainable communications involve clearly defining the target audiences and developing a corresponding message. The message objectives need to be concrete, clear, realistic and achievable. It is often better to focus on a single issue rather than numerous different points.
Decide how these objectives will be achieved by developing message(s) and defining channel(s). Do not overload an audience with information; maintain a common theme throughout all the aspects of the campaign. Identify how the particular audience prefers to receive information; consider how social networks could be used to communicate the message.
Conduct audience research using focus groups or telephone surveys. Find out what motivates the target audience, determine what they read, watch and listen to.
Perform a SLEPT Analysis (Social, Legal, Environmental, Political and Technical issues) that might affect the campaign.
To assist with planning and implementation, develop a timeline that identifies communications milestones. Set up a green team steering group, as well as a campaign coordinator.
Continually measure and evaluate the communications. Establish what will be measured and how. Seek audience feedback, then document and report this evaluation. Make the plan and the assessment metrics readily accessible to team members and update them as needed.
Tailor all sustainable communications to the culture in which they are being launched. For a useful guide to communicating sustainability see the publication by Futerra and UNEP.
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