Empowering Sustainability through Strategic PR
Authored by Akshita Agrawal, PR and Communications Specialist
Sustainability has become a global imperative today and leading organizations across various industries have come to embrace sustainable practices and incorporate them into their core values. The World Economic Forum in Davos has placed significant emphasis on sustainability and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals, which have become a common thread bringing together individuals and organizations with diverse interests, all striving towards a shared objective of making a positive impact.
Simultaneously, there is a growing awareness among stakeholders, including customers, employees, investors, and policymakers, who demand transparent and action-oriented information from organizations claiming commitment to these causes. In this context, Public Relations (PR) has emerged as a critical tool for organizations, transitioning from merely managing reputation to actively fostering positive change and accelerating progress on key sustainability issues.
Effecting real change for the future requires a shift from mere awareness to adoption across the entire ecosystem. It necessitates organizations to transform their supply chains, customers to embrace goods and services that prioritize doing good, and investors to support groundbreaking technologies and ventures. In navigating these complex challenges, a robust PR and communications strategy is exceptionally well-suited to evangelize the ecosystem and act as a catalyst for change.
Today presents a significant opportunity for companies to seriously consider sustainability and its associated PR implications, as it offers multidimensional advantages for brands. This is particularly true for reaffirming credibility and trust among stakeholders who are better informed and environmentally conscious, gravitating towards brands that are dedicated to ESG and sustainability goals. Across various industries, such as transportation, consumer packaged goods, fashion & lifestyle, and real estate, customers are increasingly favoring brands that not only talk about sustainability but also actively demonstrate it. According to a 2022 report by Bain and Company, 60% of customers in India are willing to pay a premium for sustainable products, with 43% ranking sustainability among their top five key purchase criteria. These findings underscore the relevance and necessity of integrating sustainable PR into the communication strategies of businesses.
By crafting a compelling and authentic sustainability narrative, PR practitioners can effectively convey the organization's commitment to sustainability, its goals, and the positive impact it aspires to achieve. This narrative serves as the bedrock for all PR efforts, enabling organizations to establish an emotional connection with audiences and foster support for their sustainability initiatives.
Furthermore, effective PR strategies facilitate engagement and relationship-building with stakeholders, including employees, customers, investors, communities, and industry partners. By transparently and consistently communicating sustainability goals and initiatives, PR professionals can foster trust, demonstrate accountability, and garner support.
At a time when the startup ecosystem is flourishing, startups focussed on sustainability, particularly those involved in climate technology, are increasingly preferred by investors. According to Tracxn, as of September 2022, USD 1.4 billion has been invested in such startups. Crunchbase reports that the sustainable mobility sector alone has raised USD 705 million since 2016. At this critical juncture, a strong roadmap for public relations becomes a determining factor for young startups seeking to secure funding. Engaging stakeholders through regular communications, events, and campaigns not only fosters a sense of ownership but also encourages active participation in achieving sustainability objectives.
By showcasing the organization's commitment to social responsibility, an effective PR strategy can highlight tangible impacts on environmental, social, and economic fronts. This has the potential to not only inspire the entire ecosystem towards a common goal but also motivate others to follow suit.
However, it is crucial to exercise caution and avoid "greenwashing," where organizations make exaggerated claims about their environmental efforts without substantiating them. Genuine and evidence-based campaigns are better received by discerning customers.
In an age where sustainability is essential for the long-term viability of our planet, organizations must effectively communicate their sustainability goals and initiatives. PR professionals play a crucial role as catalysts in promoting these goals, crafting compelling narratives, engaging stakeholders, leveraging media relations, and fostering collaborations. By utilizing effective PR strategies, organizations can raise awareness, inspire behavioral change, and drive collective action towards a more sustainable future. Through their expertise in storytelling, relationship-building, and stakeholder engagement, PR professionals are instrumental in creating a positive impact and influencing a wide range of audiences to embrace sustainability in their daily lives.
(All views are personal, does not reflect views of the organization or publication)