By Tegen Shipp, Junior Account Executive
As a PR newbie at a B-Corp, I am already acutely aware of the importance of considering sustainability and ethics in all our work as well as our everyday individual decision making. PR firms are often the front line of communication for businesses and so it is imperative that we help to lead the way in how we effectively communicate a brands sustainability journey.
This week, we had the opportunity to attend The Blue Earth Summit in Bristol and hear from a range of inspiring companies that are tackling difficult issues and striving to instigate change.
In a talk around the issue of greenwashing, it was highlighted that there is often an attitude-behaviour gap both on a personal and business level. This is the gap between wanting to do good but being prevented by blocks which seem like a lot of effort to take down.
Many small businesses may have good intentions but are resource strapped, inadvertently greenwashing their communications as they do not have the time or funds to fully research. Stating ‘We’re Carbon Neutral’ is no longer good enough – communications need to be accurate, specific, and transparent to effectively communicate your brands journey.
Companies can also fall short of developing a consistent growth mindset. It’s important to not just focus on the one thing that has already been done, but also to recognise that there is always a great deal more to work on. We cannot just ignore everything else. Companies need to begin to publicly acknowledge that there is always more that than they can do to strive for change.
Often when we are trying to create change, we have all the ‘intellect’ behind it, but we are losing the communications war. Jacquie Wilmhurst talked passionately about learning the art of ‘Getting Out Of Your Own Way’ (GOOYO). You need to learn to consider what you can control and what influence you have focus on that, not what you can’t control. As individuals/agencies, we spend a lot of time wanting the public to do something differently/think differently.
One final point which is key, is that audience action outcome is often far more important than reach. It can be more valuable to target a select number of individuals that will change their behaviour because of your communications, rather than try and target a mass audience who may not act. It’s not always about making a big noise.
PR firms have a responsibility to think twice about their communications and how they can help to eradicate greenwashing, not add to it. If each firm begins to become accountable, we will begin to see a wave of change for the better. I think that by listening to how other businesses are creating solutions to hard-hitting problems, events like The Blue Earth Summit can really help bring businesses together and allow for improved transparency.