Four ways to communicate pro-environmental actions

 

#CIPRClimateComms – Sustainability needs more than lip-service

“Saving the planet is now a communications challenge” from David Attenborough is one of my favourite quotes, in fact it’s already inspired a number of blog posts from the Twelve PR team and we picked the quote to represent June on our anniversary desk calendar.

It is obviously a quote that resonates with many as it was also chosen by CIPR to inspire their climate change conference last month – full title ‘Climate Change and the Role of PR: Why communication is key’.

Over the half day, speakers looked at the real challenge we have on our hands when it comes to climate change, sustainability and saving our planet whilst looking at ways we as an industry can better understand the issues surrounding global warming and transition to Net Zero.

Speakers also covered how PRs can support clients and employers in their journey to become more sustainable. For some of the top insights, I’d highly recommend checking out the #CIPRClimateComms hashtag on Twitter.

For me the discussion between Sian Conway-Wood of #EthicalHour, CommsHero’s Asif Choudry and PersonaR & WhiteElephantDigital’s Andras Sztaniszlav resonated the most as they discussed ‘greenwashing’. This is the process of conveying misleading information about how a company’s products or practices are more environmentally sound when the claims are largely unsubstantiated.

‘‘We’re all being greenwashed from all angles. There are companies that are doing this intentionally, and the small businesses that just don’t know any better. But we can be the gatekeepers,” commented Sian Conway-Wood.

Greenwashing is nothing but detrimental

Greenwashing can be deeply confusing for consumers who are genuinely looking to switch to products with a greater eco-focus. Once it’s realised that green claims are false, motivation to live more sustainably is damaged.

The panel’s main thrust was that as PRs we play an important role in ensuring the sustainability messages we communicate on behalf of our clients are genuine.

At Twelve, I’m proud to work with clients where authenticity is a central component of their business practices; sustainability is a conscious choice and our communications programmes don’t just pay lip service.

For example, we support the packaging division at Tata Steel, a world leader in sustainable steelmaking and one of the largest steel producers in Europe.  In its 2020 Sustainability Report, the steel producer laid out its commitment to carbon-neutral steelmaking by 2050. It is investing in breakthrough technologies including carbon capture, using hydrogen and HIsarna – a radical new technology for making iron which has been in development since 2011.

By 2033, Tata Steel’s ambition is to have HIsarna working at full scale and ready to replace one of the blast furnaces, the traditional method for making steel. HIsarna can cut up to 100 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions, when combined with carbon capture.

Similarly, client Altelium is at the forefront of insurtech solutions in the green energy market. Using real-time information about battery state-of-health combined with AI technology, it supports customers who need to make investment or operational decisions about electric vehicle batteries in first and second life situations.

How we should be communicating pro-environmental actions

At the end, when I look at my notes from the #CIPRClimateComms conference, I came away with four key learnings; four ways to communicate pro-environmental actions:

  1. Concentrate on providing the solution or action

I wrote a previous piece for the Twelve PR blog about the importance of behaviour change and how by providing straightforward advice, people feel empowered.

  1. Positive message and highlight the benefits

By showcasing the positive message, it reinforces motivation. My favourite mantra is ‘small action, big impact’.  This phrase was used by previous client Cawleys Waste Management to encourage its clients to embrace easy recycling at work such as separating paper from food waste to improve resource recovery.

Similarly, often people won’t take action if they don’t think their actions will have any personal benefits – not everyone is motivated by saving the planet, although personally, I think they should be.

Veganism is a great case study. Sarah Pascoe, comedian, is quoted as saying on social media: “I decided that I was going to do 100 days being vegan, and I was going to write it up and see how I felt. But within a week, I felt so much better in my body, that it became ‘oh I am definitely going to do this forever.’ My digestion immediately improved”…

  1. Peer pressure

There’s nothing like a spot of peer pressure to encourage others to adopt sustainable practices. In a survey we conducted for Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association between parents and children on recycling attitudes, 41 per cent of parents said they believe it was their children who drove recycling and a further 43 per cent had faced a telling off from their offspring – an average of three times a week! – for not making more effort with recycling.

  1. Relatable messengers

I spotted this in a write-up from Sustainable Sidekicks, choosing a messenger that people can relate to or trust is crucial. Our June cover star, David Attenborough, is perfect example and his Blue Planet series shows how the right messenger can galvanise a worldwide audience.

If you would like help conveying your pro-environmental messages, get in touch – jessica@twelvepr.co.uk

Five steps to communicating your brand story

 

 

“Step out of the history that is holding you back. Step into the new story you are willing to create.”

That’s the inspirational quote we chose for May on our 2021 calendar, words from Oprah Winfrey.

We chose the quote back in November 2020 when we were putting together a desk calendar to celebrate Twelve PR’s 25th anniversary this year.

Each quote was chosen to illustrate a PR skill, to highlight how we could employ that technique to support your business needs.  This month’s quote is about the power of communication through employing key message and stories.

In her interview with Oprah, Meghan Markle got her story and her truth across to millions or maybe billions of people.  It’s a case study in communicating skills that most people will be familiar with.

However for those without access to Oprah, it can sometime be a little more difficult to get your message across.

Here’s a summary of the five step process to identify and communicate your story in PR.

  • Explore the key messages and statements you want people to know.
  • Identify the evidence to accompany each statement or message
  • Identify your key stakeholders or customers and understand their communication channels and customer journey.
  • Agree your spokespeople or champions. Who you pick to tell your story and how they tell it says a huge amount your product or brand.

And the fifth and final step – develop a communication strategy which will help you convey your messages in the channels where your target audience (stakeholders and customers) – will be able to discover it.

To be in the news it has to be well, news, or interesting.

That’s where a PR agency earns its stripes. In bringing your story to life.

So, if you would like to bring your story or your business to the attention of more people, do get in touch.  It would make our 25th anniversary year even more special if we could celebrate by creating an amazing campaign to tell your story.

Creativity is part of our everyday practice

“Let’s build companies where creativity becomes part of our everyday practice.”

Jo Malone

PR is an industry built around ideas.  

It is an industry that takes news and makes it newsworthy. We manage the delivery and circulation of information from a client to the public in a way that best conveys their message – and to achieve that, creativity is essential. 

It’s no surprise that almost all PR job roles are advertised as needing a creative candidate. A creative PR professional takes a key message and presents it such a way that it reaches the people it needs to reach, in a way the audience wants to hear. 

Creative PR - Includes Jo Malone quote that says 'Let's build companies where creativity becomes part of our everyday practice'

Whilst a brand will decide what they want to say, a PR agency will decide how to say it, to stand out and achieve cut through. We are advocates for our clients – we are their public voice  so although creativity is essential to engage with our target audience, insight and consistency is also crucial as the custodians of the clients voice. 

So how should PRs approach creative campaign ideas whilst maintaining brand insight and tone? 

Campaigns anchored in messaging 

Our primary goal is to engage with target audiences and demographics while achieving communications objectives. This means that whatever exciting or unusual ideas we come up with, they must also have purpose. Ideas need to be tailored to the target audience and should be able to capture their attention; otherwise, it is just noise for the sake of it. 

Last year, for example, Twelve helped design a press pack to send to fashion journalists and social media influencers made from recycled denim. It contained a set of Instagram polaroid postcards alongside a press release to mark the collaboration of second-hand fashion website Re-Fashion with High Street store, VERY.  

Whilst the arrival of a press release wrapped in a piece of recycled fashion was certainly memorable, it was firmly anchored in Re-Fashion’s core message The partnership aims to to reduce the amount of good quality, wearable clothes going to landfill by encouraging Very’s customers give up their unwanted clothes for a second life. With the key messaging in mind, we wanted to use fabric that had come through Re-Fashion’s donation process and include key phrases from the brand’s social media campaign to strengthen their voice in communication to the fashion press. 

Storytelling and emotional response 

Storytelling has always been a major component of creative PR and bringing a brand to life with compelling narrative is key when generating both interest and long-term reach with target audiences. One of the most challenging areas to achieve this is in a B2B setting, where the subject matter can be very specialised and often, quite technical. 

At Twelve, we look for opportunities to bring colour and human interest to technical subjects – one recent example was Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association (MPMA) whose key message is that metal is a permanently available material and can be recycled infinite times, whilst also having a long first life. We launched a competition ‘Hunt for Treasured Tins’ across several platforms to ask people to find their most treasured tin. 

Creative tins - hunt for treasured tins

It was a popular campaign, with entries up to 103 years old entered and many accompanied with fond family memories and meaningful uses for those tins today. Participants delighted in uncovering lost treasures and sharing their stories with MPMANot to mention the flood of images that arrived, of beautifully decorated and delicately embossed vintage tins and historic artefacts.  

It really served to bring the subject of metal packaging to life and generated a positive emotional response. It is the human stories behind metal packaging which helps secure thunderstanding and long-term reach that Twelve strives to create for MPMA. 

Provide opportunities for creative PR 

PR agencies should be looking to bring new ideas and angles to their clients’ brands continually and consistently. Getting into the habit of creative brainstorming is a good way to regularly achieve and evaluate this element of coverage. Twelve worked with ACS International Schools for 14 years and pledged to present a fresh new idea every month. That’s 12 ‘Twelve Ideas’ a year – or 168 new ideas in the duration our contract with ACS! 

To remain focused on the agreed brand messaging, we would assess our results against targets on a monthly basis, identify any potential gaps and then brainstorm ideas to cover any underrepresented message, target audience or platform the following month.  

The combination of creative group brainstorming, often informed by current affairs, calendar events and social media trends with a focus on core messages resulted in successful campaigns which enjoyed great pick up in target media titles or delivered against challenging objectives 

Highlights included ‘Beyond the Classroom’, an idea to reach out to local families and introduce nonexpats to the school for a range of open events featuring interesting speakers on parenting or education. 

Nine working days after Boris Johnson announced the closure of schools last MarchWild Days was launched by international environmental charity, Earthwatch Europe; a digital service serving up a daily package of nature-based content backed by scientific and outdoor learning expertise 

The communications challenge was to sustain interest and keep raising Earthwatch’s profile, at a time when new online resources were coming out every day, within a short turn around.  

Limited time does not necessarily have to hamper creative thinking. Twelve helped Earthwatch develop a hero campaign, ‘How to Watch Well’, for which we worked alongside the charity and a child development expert, commissioned an omnibus survey, issued press releases and top tips from the Wild Days ambassadors.  

We also created taster articles based on weekly Wild Days themes, which were widely shared with media titles and platforms to maintain interest and showcase a range of fresh angles on the campaign. Wildlife guides were negotiated from Princeton University Press, for use as poetry competition prizes and social media influencer incentives, and these additional outreach ideas ran alongside more traditional methods such as focused blogs on the Earthwatch website.  

 

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A post shared by Earthwatch Europe (@earthwatcheurope)

In a tight timeframe, Wild Days secured a combined estimated press reach of over 79 million, with a total of 49 earned media cuttings. By the end of the 12-week campaign, 4,570 families signed up and as a direct result of the campaign, Earthwatch’s social media following grew by 37.2%, with over 50,000 visitors to the Wild Days website.  

So, if you are looking for a fresh, creative thinking ideas to ensure that your customers are aware of your key messages, then get in touch with Twelve PR team – info@twelvepr.co.uk