25 May The heat is on decisionmakers to slow global warming – and fast
Last week, the New Zealand Government laid out its climate plan to secure the path to net zero. The Emissions Reduction Plan details what the transition towards cleaner transport, climate-friendly food production, and renewable energy sources will look like.
But as the pathway is forged on our way to meeting emissions targets – it is high time to think about what your organisation can do to put their best sustainable foot forward. How can this be communicated with your audiences?
Here are three things to keep in mind when you’re telling your sustainability stories.
Be genuine and transparent
The phrase ‘greenwashing’ may instil fear in big corporates and organisations, and maybe rightfully so. It means “activities, usually marketing, intended to make people believe a company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is.”
It’s in an organisation’s best interest to be transparent about the mark it is marking on the world and be genuine when they talk about their impact on the environment.
There are a few simple ways to help you take the first steps down the right path:
- Review your mission and look back at your core values and acknowledge how you’re meeting these. You don’t need to publicly acknowledge you’re on track, but it is important to take stock of where you are and where you’re going, to ensure you’re walking the walk.
- Own your mistakes. It’s inevitable you will not get it right every time. Accepting you might have missed the mark this time is the first step to fairness.
After all, there is a saying: “never perfect – always genuine”. This mantra is one you might like to take forward into your communications.
Know your audience
This is crucial of all communications, but it’s particularly important for sustainability-related stories as well.
‘Sustainability’ is a broad term, and it means something different to everyone. Therefore, what sustainability means to your audience may vary greatly from what it means to the audience of your local supermarket.
By knowing your audience, and tailoring your sustainability messaging to them, you will get the cut through you need. A good place to start is by looking back at your communications to date to guide you forward. Some questions you might consider are:
- When are your audience most reactive to your messages? At night, or in the morning?
- Where are you talking to them, online, by mail? Are they talking back, or is the conversation one-sided? Would you like that to change?
- And importantly: what are you saying? Is your audience receptive to your messaging, or does it need to change?
Once you have the answers to these questions, you will be well on your way to locking down the best communications tools to get your messaging across.
Keep it simple
To put it bluntly, discussions about climate change, sustainability, and the longevity of the world around us can be remarkably overwhelming. So can the jargon.
If your words are going straight over everyone’s heads, your message won’t go into their ears. Keep it simple where you can.
An easy way to sense check if you are achieving this is by thinking, “How would I tell this to my neighbour over the fence? Does it line up with how I am telling it now?”
It’s crucial for your audience to understand your commitment, and your ‘why’ – why are you operating the way you are, why you are taking the path you are, and why it’s important to you.
By having your audiences understand your narrative and support it, they can feel as if they are part of your journey. Having your stakeholders’ buy-in puts you in good stead to maintain (or gain) support from your audiences.
When it comes to language – and life – less is more. As John C Maxwell once said, “people are persuaded not by what we say, but what they understand.”
By telling a story in your (easily understandable) words, people can follow your story to explaining your ‘why’ and get behind you authentically as you tell your sustainability story.
If you’re after some support making your communications (and not the planet) hotter, get in touch with the C2 tīma.