When people ask us what we do, the standard answer is, “we help companies define and leverage their sustainability stories to gain a market advantage.” I could write a whole post about what all that means, but I want to hone in on the bridge between Defining and Leveraging: the sustainability communications platform. That platform captures how the sustainability story is going to be told in alignment with the brand story, what the market cares about and what the internal culture will embrace.
Here are three tips to getting your sustainability communications platform done and launched right:
- Secure buy-in from leadership. If you’re leading sustainability for your company, odds are you have a passion and a vision for it and want to get the story out there! The problem is, you may not be on the same page as your marketing folks/brand folks/company executives. So it’s essential you secure their buy-in. If you don’t, you may craft a really great platform that doesn’t align with their perspective – and therefore, never sees the light of day.
- Communicate with all of your audiences. You may know exactly who you want to tell your sustainability story to – customers, consumers, the channel, the press, NGOs. Don’t forget your organization’s employees. It stinks to be them and to hear the story second-hand. And you miss a big opportunity that way … if your employees are on board they can act as ‘walking billboards’ for the sustainability platform. We actually have a process to address this – we call it InsideOut, and it’s all about employee engagement first, with outward facing communications to follow. The point is: Consider what they’ll embrace as you’re creating the platform and plan to ask them to carry the message forward for you.
- Determine your budget. As with any campaign launch, you need to have a budget. It’s easy to think you can rely on social media and PR to carry it forward … but the odds are you’ll need some “stuff” that costs money (like a web site, online videos, some paid media, POP materials, sales tools, etc.) to get it out there in a meaningful way to all the right stakeholders. It’s best to determine this budget on the front end so you don’t wind up with a killer idea that you can’t afford to produce.
Of course, there’s more to it than this, but this will get you started in the right direction. Give us call if you’d like to talk it through – we’d love to help.