How Can Businesses Effectively Communicate Sustainability Practices?
There are many advantages for businesses engaging in sustainability practices. However, businesses must ensure they have a developed communication plan in order to see many of these advantages pay off.
There are a number of groups of people to whom sustainability practices should be communicated and a myriad of ways in which to do so. We explore some of those ways here.
It is important for staff to be aware of sustainability practices in order to ensure staff are supportive of your sustainability aims and the journey to achieve those aims. It is also important to ensure all staff are aware of sustainability practices, not just senior management, as it is front-line staff who will most likely be required to answer questions and communicate your business’ values to customers and clients.
A few weeks ago, we asked the question as to whether or not consumers care about sustainability. Studies have found to date that consumers do indeed care about sustainability practices in business, and therefore, it is important to communicate these practices to the customer and client base.
The real success of sustainability can be seen in the supply chain. It is important to communicate your sustainability practices to your suppliers, so they can understand how they may need to alter their business practices in order to suit your needs for the achievement of your sustainability aims.
For listed companies, listings on indexes associated with sustainability such as FTSE4Good and Dow Jones Sustainability has been associated with a contribution to a stock price increasing of an average of 2%. This is important to communicate to your shareholders or to potential shareholders who may wish to invest further in your company.
The first place many people look for information on a business is their website. Your website should reflect evidence of your sustainability practices and values.
On your website, you should have a blog or news page with industry news, stories and achievements of your business. This is a great place where you can communicate any practices and commitments towards sustainability.
Social media is beginning to take on the role of social media for many people; it has become a medium for people to research information on a business, especially for millennials. As millennials are the top demographic who are passionate about seeing businesses commit to sustainability practices, social media is a key platform for communicating your sustainability commitments.
Many businesses have a mailing list for their customer base, shareholder base, supplier base and stakeholders. Sending a frequent newsletter including details on your sustainability practices can be a great tool for communication, especially if your mailing list has a high average click-through rate.
Many companies now publish an annual sustainability document. Sustainability documents do not need to be over 100 pages long. Sustainability documents can be several pages which include a brief overview of current practices, achievements over the past 12 months and where to go over the coming years.
Paid advertisements to the right platforms, such as social media, and targeted at the right demographics, such as millennials, can be a fantastic way to publicise your business’ commitment to sustainability. It can attract customers and clients beyond your consumer base by reaching new people.
Paid advertisements are one thing, but if your business has done something especially remarkable, it is likely the media will pick it up and cover it at no cost if you have a well-worded media release. If you are a small business working locally, it is best to target media releases at local press, radio and online media organisations.
There are an increasing amount of awards which recognise businesses for their commitments to sustainability. If you believe your business is eligible, a nomination alone is a great way to promote your business and your sustainability practices. Receipt of an award may even generate your business publicity in the media, local or otherwise.
Word of Mouth
Finally, word of mouth is one of the best methods of free advertising. If your business is able to give your staff, consumers, suppliers and / or shareholders a reason to be proud to be associated with your business and your sustainability practices, it is highly likely that they will tell their network that they are associated with your brand.