When it comes to communicating about impact, it’s not the number of messages that counts. It is really the quality that matters. There is so much communication about sustainability and social change, that it doesn’t always resonate anymore. The overload of all the brands and buzzwords leads often to meaningless communication for consumers. But beyond that, the quality of the communication must improve. Often the messaging is either very generic or way too much detailed. And greenwashing is dangerously around the corner. Sustainability communication still leaves a lot to be desired in terms of its credibility. So what to do?
Impact comes in layers
It all starts with just you. What is the story you want to tell? It really helps if you can communicate in an authentic way to engage and inspire your audience. You will make much more impact with your story if you use a layered form of communication. Start with the [global] issue you are tackling, often this is one related to the 17 SDGs. Then present your solution and vision on it; this is often a mix of facts and opinions that are truly part of you and your business. Last, but most importantly, show the proof that you are acting on it and really make a difference for your target audience. So make it real, as that’s the only way we can really make a change.
Now that the message is clear, you have to think about how you want to deliver it. Focusing on a combination of a strong narrative with a creative, original way of communicating, will pay off. Knowing that the trust and credibility of sustainability communication are declining the time of just sending one-way communication to your audience is over. You need to know where they are, who they listen to and how to connect with them to inspire and inform them with your message. Sometimes it still is a press release to get your message across, but more often it’s more tailor-made and including different types of content. This will take more time, which is ok as you want to focus on the quality of your communication.
Practice what you preach
Very often the timing of the communication is a point of discussion. When do you communicate about your next step of impact? Do you use it as an announcement before you even start with the project? Or do you want to finish it first, to make sure you can manage the project and don’t make any false promises? There is no right answer here. It really depends on the subject of communication. If you want stakeholders to join, it might be worth spreading the word earlier. If there is a new product, it should definitely be available to optimize the potential traffic. But the most important thing is that you practice what you preach, you walk your talk. Your story is not just storytelling, it’s story doing. The better you do on this part, the better it will be received and you will be able to make even more impact.
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