Moving from green announcement to total stakeholder engagement

At the Copenhagen Summit in December, policymakers, celebrities, and CEOs filled the hotels; 200-plus global media gathered in one location; 190 heads of state flew into one airport; investors and philanthropists littered the restaurants; more than 20,000 youth prepared for mass demonstrations.

At the Copenhagen Summit in December, policymakers, celebrities, and CEOs filled the hotels; 200-plus global media gathered in one location; 190 heads of state flew into one airport; investors and philanthropists littered the restaurants; more than 20,000 youth prepared for mass demonstrations. Word-of-mouth was rife.

The PR lesson learned from the Summit was a big one: if you want to elevate your green platform, commit to a multi-stakeholder strategy. I saw clear winners and losers. It was a simple case of “don't put all your eggs in one basket.” The firms that did - whose only engagement comprised of sending their CEO to the Danish government-backed conference eight months prior - lost. The best of the mediocre media coverage was dominated by activist headlines claiming ‘Corporate sabotage of climate'. Whereas the firms that offered up “a little something for everyone” won.

“A little something for everyone” looked like this:

  • Striking, thought-provoking, and well-placed exhibits and ads in the Copenhagen airport.
  • Mini-ads on hotel TV.
  • Billboard sponsorship of public-facing climate campaigns (‘Hopenhagen' and ‘Seal the Deal').
  • Major media announcements and press conferences within the conference.
  • Campaign partnerships and presence with key influencers, like NGOs, trade associations, and celebrities.
  • Dinners and networking events with policymakers, NGOs, and other C-suite.

Applying these lessons, I now respond to a client's request for media recognition for a green initiative by asking:

  • How does this announcement fit into what reporters are writing on this quarter?
  • How can we build a total stakeholder engagement program to support your overall green efforts?

By taking this holistic approach, it helps to ensure a better understanding of the PR challenge and sets a more realistic baseline for client expectations. Besides, offering “a little something for everyone” pays off in life, too.

Mark Grundy is a VP in Edelman's CSR practice

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