How to Tell a More Compelling Sustainability Story
As more companies embrace sustainable business practices as both smart and ethical, they are sharing their efforts and touting their accomplishments – and rightfully so. It’s important for consumers to know that companies are tackling social and environmental issues – in fact, as this article in the Guardian points out, 83% of millennials want companies and brands to take an active role in solving the world’s problems.
However, with so many messages out there, information overload is a genuine risk. To keep consumers from tuning out or becoming indifferent, companies need to make their stories stand out and deliver tangible proof of their sustainability claims. The article’s advice for accomplishing this mirrors many of our strategies for effective climate communications: Tap into the values and beliefs of your audience, and tailor your message accordingly. Engage with them on a personal level, and allow communications to run both ways. Help your audience visualize how the solution creates a better world, rather than simply focusing on the problem. And explain how sustainability is part of a bigger picture, with benefits beyond just being “green.”
Katharine Earley, contributor to the Guardian
Communicating simple, inspiring stories of efforts to tackle complex social and environmental issues is an ongoing challenge for today’s businesses. Somewhere amid the cacophony of sustainability communications, consumers are reaching information overload.
As the effects of corporate ‘greenwashing’, ethical scandals and climate change doom-mongering take their toll, a kind of apathy is taking hold. Globally, just 28% of people believes business is doing enough to protect the planet and contribute to society, according to Accenture and the UN Global Compact.
In 10 years, the pressure to deliver concrete proof of green claims will intensify. “We’ll see a push for radical transparency and increasing scrutiny of businesses by consumers,” says Futerra co-founder Ed Gillespie. “To make their sustainability stories stand out from the crowd, businesses will need to make a fundamental transition – to reconnect with a deeper sense of purpose. This must fit perfectly with their core business, capture how they add value to the world, and resonate with people emotionally and rationally.”
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