Much has been written and, it seems, much has been ignored in the area of sustainability communications. While it’s important to share your company’s commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility it’s equally important to know how to state your claims.
Here we share our top ten tips, developed and learned from our work at MCI Sustainability Services helping organisations to communicate about their sustainability programs. This list has been developed and refined over the years through trial, error and input from some clever individuals:)
- Inspire, don’t guilt. Sustainable development is about engaging and activating a wide audience. The goal is to inspire them with optimism to act innovatively, not guilt them into action.
- Tell stories. People connect with real life examples cleverly illustrated. Make your point by highlighting the people and the colourful tale told.
- Facts and faces. Data is best explained if it’s linked to a human face. Stories are more credible with data. But be honest, technically correct and state your sources.
- Put your claims in context. Vague claims are bad enough but claims without context can get you into trouble. 24 tons of waste recycled annually sounds impressive until it is ‘normalized’ by showing that it represents just 4% of total waste generated.
- Have big goals but not too many. Sharing your sustainability goals allows you to quickly communicate the style, substance and ambition of your CSR strategy. Don’t confuse your readers with too many or too complicated objectives. Be ambitious and brave.
- Welcome input and support. The key to good sustainability communications is humility. Acknowledge that you are not perfect, listen to your stakeholders and invite others to join you in your pursuit of sustainable practices.
- Promote your partners. No business is an island. By showcasing the involvement and support of your suppliers and stakeholders, you’ll earn goodwill and future commitments for support, all while establishing your role as a leader.
- Be Cool and sexy. Sustainability is about innovation and better business. Create the trend, stand out and be sexy with your communication.
- Exploit the influencers. Certain personalities in your organisation command respect and have a disproportional contact network and influence over your stakeholders. Recruit and use these individuals as your champions of change.
- Share your failures. In the world of sustainable business, a company gains credibility by being transparent enough to admit defeats. Build trust among your stakeholders by showing your disappointments and invite their ideas and best practices to help you succeed. Sustainability is a team sport and expert coaching often comes free.
Love to have your comments or thoughts on these 10 tips. Perhaps you agree, disagree or have other suggestions.