Why should you plan your communications, top tips on engaging stakeholders and more!
About this image: Excellent campaign by the Spectator which ran during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. The message was clear, it engaged the reader and articulated the offer that a free issue was availabe to readers.
Management and strategy departments in organisations often spend a considerable amount of time developing core strategic plans and activities for their organisations. Similarly, careful thought and planning should take place around how best to engage on those plans and strategies, and how to ensure that everyone understands their role in how to make those plans come to fruition.
The benefits of looking ahead and how it demonstrates the value of the communications team in any organisation can be seen in examples where companies have invested in thorough communications planning. As a communications professional, you are faced with a wide range of content and material which need to go out to the business, consisting of a variety of information, from HR and legal communications to social engagements.
To ensure your communications achieves it original goals, you can focus your messaging in a way the ensures the following:
Answer the “so what?” Question
When people read any messages or communications, we automatically wonder ”so what?” , make sure your communication resonates with your audience and clearly explains what this may mean for them or how it could impact them.
When used correctly, they can make complicated or technical information more interesting and easier to understand. Find an object, item or experience your audience can relate to and link the communication metaphorically. It can also help readers to remember this communication in future.
Telling a story
We all like to tell a story of what happened when...and people like to read a story start to finish, not just read about a moment in time. Telling a story helps the person reading it to ‘experience’ it.
What? When? How?
As kids, we asked questions to learn about the world we live in; as adults, rather than being told, we prefer to find the answers for ourselves. So when communicating to your audience, try to make a statement that gets them engaged - ask them whether they agree with your statement thereby allowing them to get engaged with the information, to think about it and to arrive at a conclusion.
Sustainability to Action can help you to achieve your communications goals, contact us today to see how we can help you.
Sustainability Jargon Buster
It’s no secret that to succeed in today’s global economy, professionals need to have a global skill set. This is especially true for those who work in the sustainability field, those people who work in organisations that seek to integrate sustainability and raise the bar within their industries. They need to have abrader understanding of their business and industries, and how sustainability fits within that framework.
I have been working in communications and marketing in the sustainability and policy field for over a decade. Throughout my career in sustainability, I have seen organisations struggle with the issue of terminology and language.
Communications people are generally driven by a passion for telling stories coupled with strong skills in areas such as writing, the use of language and interpreting information. It is often the role of communications teams to process complex, sometimes jargon-filled information and translate it in to messaging that resonates with specific audiences. But for those of us who do not have an academic background in sustainability, how can we be sure that we have fully understood and correctly communicated those messages?
Marketing and communications professionals working in the sustainability sector, as well as journalists reporting on it, know that they must be able to speak and understand industry language.
I believe that acknowledging and addressing this knowledge gap is a first step in achieving the goal we are all trying to promote for our colleagues and clients: demonstrating that a sustainable approach is the only way we can build safe future for generations to come.
What are your views? Do you think the jargon we use is clear, or do we need to use common language to get our messages across? Please take the survey in the column on the right and share your opinions.
Shareholders, members of the public, investors and NGOs increasingly seek more transparency and information about organisations’ sustainability performance. This is a significant breakthrough that has occurred in the recent years.
Disclosure can pose a real challenge for organisations, and they need to respond to these requests for transparency efficiently and effectively.
Ideally, reporting for any given organisation, including it reporting on sustainability, should be integrated into a single integrated report that communicates every aspect of a company’s performance. This provides all the information about an organisation in one easy to use and access document.
This highlights the different types of reporting that are out there, making matters slightly more complicated from a company’s perspective.
There’s the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Integrated Reporting (IR) and Sustainability Accounting Standards Board to mention a few of the options that are available.
My preferred option is Integrated Reporting (IR) as it is a process that is based on integrated thinking that results in an integrated report that is produced by an organisation periodically and communicates on value creation over time.
The International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) defines an integrated report as “a concise communication about how an organisation’s strategy, governance, performance and prospects, in the context of its external environment, lead to the creation of value in the short, medium and long term.” Making a compelling argument towards this method of sustainability reporting.
In any case, effective sustainability reporting can be a powerful communication tool that enables effective communication with stakeholders about how organisations are performing against their set objectives. Companies that embrace this are likely to have an advantage over their competitors and boost value for shareholders.
However, it can be challenging when an organisation starts its sustainability journey as it includes regular sustainability data gathering in a reliable and consistent manner.
Sandra Anani is passionate about sustainability, with over 19 years’ experience. She has dedicated her career to sustainable development and communications.