More than any other line of comms, your business is your message when it comes to communicating your green credentials and sustainability plans, experts in the latest PR Vision show insist.
WWF head of business and industry Dax Lovegrove and GE Energy director of comms and public affairs Frank Farnell have plenty of tips to ensure your messaging is successful but say you cannot communicate properly on these issues unless your business is changing.
Lovegrove insists: 'It shouldn't be about doing bad things better.'
He says these issues should be transforming business and, even then, you have to be pioneering with your message.
WWF produces interviews with leading captains of industry and he says the need for change is appreciated by businesses that want to be more resilient.
'We all saw Nike get knocked quite badly a few years ago because of accusations around some of the working standards in the supply chain. And it turned that around. It then pioneered to say: "We are going to be one of the companies that is putting our suppliers out in the public domain."'
Not only did this introduce a new idea, it meant Nike benefited from other people putting their suppliers under scrutiny; the business did not simply take on the burden itself.
Lovegrove, who has led WWF's engagement with business and corporate responsibility for seven years, has praise for some of the leading businesses, from Walmart to M&S and Sainsbury's, and their attempts to communicate on these issues: 'Every plan that comes out - you see something new and that's the success.'
Unilever's Sustainable Living Plan puts many of his top tips for green communication into action: 'That had credibility. You knew the chief exec had understanding and you then saw a plan with pioneering elements to it.'
In recent years, the world of comms has changed, we all know, but Farnell believes you should not get distracted by technology and new social media tools and platforms.
'The communication world has moved from a top-down communication to a true story-telling communication system. If I don't tell a compelling story then it's worth saying nothing,' he says.
Social media mean that messages can be communicated more quickly and by more people, as we all know, but it means that any lack of clarity or, worse, inaccuracies will get found out.
In this respect, Farnell has a blunt but important message for everyone: 'You just cannot lie. There's always someone in the world who knows you are lying. You are dead.'
- Alex Whitson Head of video, PR Vision (presenter)
- Dax Lovegrove Head of business and industry, WWF
- Frank Farnell Director of comms and public affairs, GE Energy
Top green PR tips
1. Integrity is crucial to trust
2. Social media should be part of your strategy
3. Illustrate your understanding of the big issues
4. Rethink and transform your business
5. Pioneer - don't be afraid to be different
6. Internal comms - engage your employees with new ideas
Watch prvision.tv to see the show and sign up for updates on the rest of the topics in the PR Vision series. You will also hear about Lovegrove's challenge for GE, the challenge for the energy and utility sectors, how business needs to work closer with Government and much more.