In July, we launched Part III of our field manual series: "From action to amplification", our how-to guide for translating your sustainability strategy into a cohesive narrative and effective communications. To complement the manual's release, we hosted a panel discussion with sustainability leaders across industries.
Panelists included Christina Berger, Senior Director of Corporate & ESG Communications at thredUP; Emily Ellis Cichy, Senior Director of Corporate Responsibility at Stanley 1913; John Davies, Senior Director of Brand Editorial at Avocado Green Brands; and Kara DeVita, Senior Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Fossil Group, Inc. The insightful conversation focused on using storytelling and effective communication to drive sustainability progress.
Four core themes emerged from our conversation:
To tell great stories, you need significant substance.
It’s essential to support sustainability claims with credible data and evidence. Broad statements about sustainability efforts can be detrimental to brand reputation and can be perceived as greenwashing. Instead companies should include (or link to data), or consider third-party validation or certifications to support sustainability claims, ensuring a higher level of trust among consumers.
To drive sustainable behavior change, you must build knowledge.
The more people know, the more they usually care. By including educational elements in your communications, companies can empower consumers to make informed decisions (which in turn can cultivate brand loyalty).
To be perceived as authentic, you must be transparent.
Not all sustainability initiatives will result in picture-perfect success stories, and that’s okay. Sharing challenges with your customers and your plan for overcoming them builds trust. Avoiding vague language and candidly sharing both achievements and setbacks resonates better with consumers, who are becoming increasingly knowledgeable about sustainability.
To get people to listen, you must make content digestible.
A 96-page sustainability report can be overwhelming. To ensure that sustainability communications resonate with target audiences, it is vital to make them digestible and relatable. A useful strategy is to reuse highlights and break down the data cultivated during the reporting process, and transform it into high-level, easily digestible snippets that can be used across various platforms. Sharing key highlights on social media, in purchasing emails, and on websites also reinforces the core message throughout the year, maximizing its reach and impact.
Driving real progress in sustainability communications requires a thoughtful approach. By substantiating stories with facts, embracing transparency, and making narratives accessible, companies can create meaningful connections with their audience, engage their teams, build their brand, drive positive impact.
Want to learn more about sustainability communications? Check out some of our other articles:
- Five insights for sustainability communicators
- Why storytelling is key to driving sustainability progress
- Four communications insights you can use today