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Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Communicating Sustainability

A couple of days ago, I was invited to speak about ‘Communicating Sustainability: Greening the Blogosphere’ to high-level CSR professionals attending the Conference Board’s ‘European Council on Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability’.  An exclusive club of sustainability and CSR directors from multinationals in industries including chemicals, energy and financial services, they were interested to learn about the latest trends in communications and particularly how blogging and new media in general can be used to spread the sustainability message.

Even with the best sustainability initiatives, the desired impact won’t be achieved unless they are communicated effectively.  While traditional media relations are still essential, I tried to show the audience how proactive and intelligent engagement through various online tools and new media can take their sustainability communications that step further.  The case studies of successful sustainability communications I presented included NGOs, trade associations and corporations.  Some of the companies represented had already begun dipping their toes in the world of social media, through videos on YouTube, groups on Facebook, twitter feeds or an interactive forum on the company website.

From the probing questions I faced from these CSR professionals, I could see that they were interested but for some there was still resistance to entering the brave new world of interactive online communications, especially where debate with stakeholders and the general public is concerned. 

It’s natural to be concerned about the unknown.  We only opened our own blog to comments very recently, despite preaching interactivity as one of the golden rules of blogging.  New media is such a learning curve for us all but incredibly interesting and by virtue of its inexpensive and immediate nature a really amazing tool.  We got great feedback from the organisers and participants and it was a real honour to be with these sustainability experts.  My hope?  That next time they get pulled into a corporate communications meeting, they’ll start pushing the right buttons to move their comms into the new media age.

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