COP26 is long over, but sustainability and climate change are still very much on the agenda in comms, with Greenpeace protests at this year’s Cannes Lions festival gaining plenty of coverage alongside the big winners.
We recently caught up with Aura’s Laura Sutherland to talk about her approach to building sustainability into her work – here is extra advice on how to start your own journey towards sustainable PR that will make a difference.
1) Start with research
‘It would be silly of me to say there was anything ‘quick’ about sustainability as it is a long-term game,’ admitted Laura. ‘But there are things you can put into action right now, to help you get started:
– Read the UN Sustainable Development Goals and their actions
– Subscribe to sustainability podcasts and blogs
– Take the PRCA’s new half day course ‘How to Communicate about Climate Change Accurately and Effectively’ – this was a result of our work in the Strategy Group and in partnership with the Royal Meteorological Society
– Start to measure in terms of carbon footprint – the research shows that 59% of respondents don’t do carbon footprint measurement
– Advise! Have the confidence to advise on strategy and stop jumping on the bandwagon, greenwashing and help inform them of better ways
– Call out the bad stuff.
‘Or, give me a shout!’
2) Avoid the pitfalls of greenwashing
‘As mentioned above, jumping on the bandwagon and just spouting! As we know, brands love to add to the noise when there is something newsy happening. Don’t do it for the sake of it!
‘If there is a strategy and action plan to deliver, then the measurement and evaluation should speak for itself. Don’t let clients push back on research, strategy or evaluation. It’s not a nice to have!
‘Don’t be scared to get someone in to help you get started. Not everyone is an expert in all areas.’
3) Keep the conversation going
‘It should be added to board agendas, team meeting agendas and it should be a regular point for data collection and reporting. The more it’s built into our work, the more normal it will be to take action. I personally think it should be included in your CPD plans, too.
‘Hold workshops internally or with clients to explore the stakeholder audit and mapping, do some long-term planning and horizon scanning. Our work is not all about campaigns. Our work is about thinking about how we build relationships and trust with stakeholders. And please, don’t forget internal stakeholders! I’ve done a lot of work in internal communication in recent years and it’s been obvious that it’s been an after-thought and not integrated across the organisation. Integration is so important. That’s why a collaborative approach is essential.’
4) Bring your internal and external stakeholders onboard ASAP
‘There’s definitely an education piece to be done with internal stakeholders. Both the industry research and consumer research the Strategy Group carried out say that we’re not doing enough to fight the climate crisis and I think that’s the point. We need to start taking action. Action starts from within. Personal action which translates into our work and then filters out.
‘PWC’s 2021 ESG consumer report said that 83% of consumers think companies should be actively shaping ESG best practice, 91% of leaders believe their company has a responsibility to act on ESG and that 86% of employees prefer to support or work for companies that care about the same issues they do.
‘This is epic. It means people know it’s needed, but now, what we need more than anything, is ACTION. If not now, when?’
Read our full interview with Laura Sutherland on her launch of the Aura PR Synergy Framework and which brands are already putting in the work on sustainability, as well as more about the PRCA Climate Misinformation Group’s second annual report.
Want more on how to engage your stakeholders? Take a look at Vuelio’s Stakeholder Management solutions.