Perception trumps revenue in survey

WAYZATA, MN: Corporations with sustainability strategies are more focused on positive perception of their efforts than revenue growth, according to a survey developed by the Vandiver Group and sponsored by Pinnacle Worldwide.

WAYZATA, MN: Corporations with sustainability strategies are more focused on positive perception of their efforts than revenue growth, according to a survey developed by the Vandiver Group and sponsored by Pinnacle Worldwide.

Asked to rank the driving factors behind sustainability strategies on a 10-point scale, with 10 being the most prominent, respondents ranked perception at 7.1, higher than the 6 revenue growth scored. Increasing pollution control got a 6.6 and meeting social needs a 5.28.

Companies are turning attention to sustainability communications as the public becomes savvier on the issue, said Johanna Mouton, executive director of Pinnacle Worldwide.

Just under half (49%) of the companies contacted have an annual allocation of less than $50,000 for sustainability-related communications, while 10% designate $50,000 to $500,000, and less than 3% spend more than $500,000.

"Organizations do realize that it is an important topic that needs to be addressed," Mouton said.

Only 6% of respondents characterized their companies as "recognized leaders" in sustainability, and 65% said their organizations do not have a dedicated sustainability staff.

Sustainability offers agencies unique opportunities, noted John Osthus, Vandiver Group sustainability practice lead.

"As sustainability becomes more important to corporations, the stakeholders [PR pros] work with are changing," he said. "We see this as raising [many] new opportunities... to [help] corporations with strategy."

Researchers contacted 338 respondents, mostly CEOs, in 25 countries and 40 industries from April 15 to May 5. Of the companies that reported, 18% had revenues from $10 million to $100 million, while 9% revealed revenues of $100 million to $1 billion, and 13% said they had revenues of more than $1 billion.

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