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July 25, 2011 / Speaking Sustainability

New Event: MA Technology Leadership Panel on Communicating Sustainability

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be moderating a panel on December 6, 2011 for the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council titled: “Sustainability: Don’t Market to Key Audiences, Motivate Them!” I’m assembling a panel of speakers to address consumer marketing, employee engagement, supplier engagement, and investor communications.

Marketing should always be more than one-way spin, it should motivate the audience to take an action. This is even more important in sustainability, where the real impact will be determined not by whether people remember what you said, but whether they engage and help the company achieve its sustainability goals. 

Stay tuned for more details!

July 14, 2011 / Speaking Sustainability

Why most CSR reports fail, Part 4: Accessibility

Having a great strategy, clear accomplishments, great data and good dialogue are important. But in these multi-media, multi-platform days, that alone is not enough. As sustainability migrates from being a specialized issue to one of concern to mainstream audiences, all this information must be accessible to people without specialized training and inside knowledge. If a CSR report is cloaked in jargon or shackled with technical limitations, it will fail to achieve its communications goals.  Read more…

April 1, 2011 / Speaking Sustainability

Beyond Simple Payback for Sustainability

Beyond the simple payback on projects like energy or materials efficiency, there is an emerging body of evidence that sustainability pays in 3 big ways: shareholder value, brand value, and margin protection.

Read more…

March 1, 2011 / Speaking Sustainability

The Apparel Index — are clothes like cosmetics?

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s announcement of a database of information about the environmental impacts of the manufacturers, products and components in clothing will be a great boon to designers. But, like personal care products, this might just be a category where a sustainability label could subtly shift consumer decisions.

Read more…

February 20, 2011 / Speaking Sustainability

Why most CSR reports fail, Part 3: Tone of Voice

The CSR reports of the past often took a positive, upbeat tone. An annual printed report with limited distribution was a one-way vehicle for the company to promote its actions with little ability for stakeholders to comment or reply. As a career marketing and communications guy, I can say that this is how we are trained, we don’t know any better!

But now companies are told they need “dialogue”, “transparency”, and “authenticity”. Great concepts, but what do they look like? How does a classically-trained communications professional incorporate these new ideas into a CSR report? Read more…

January 28, 2011 / Speaking Sustainability

Why most CSR reports fail, Part 2: Message Strategy

A credible, effective CSR report needs to start with a strategy that demonstrates a serious commitment on the part of the company. Unlike a typical marketing or PR communications initiative, the words and images aren’t the whole story. Four key elements — visibility, timing, structure and goals — say a great deal about the depth of a firm’s commitment. Read more…

January 13, 2011 / Speaking Sustainability

Why most CSR reports fail, Part 1: Leadership

CSR reports are often criticized as glossy PR efforts or obtuse, jargon-filled documents that only an insider can decipher. But these general criticims, however valid, aren’t helpful to companies trying to be truly responsible. The next four posts will outline concrete criteria you can use to evaluate how well your report communicates to core audiences of employees, customers/consumers, business partners and mainstream investsors.

I’ve spent a lot of time reviewing CSR reports lately trying to define what makes a report a persuasive and compelling read for a concerned, average person. I’ve developed a diagnostic scorecard with 15 criteria that fall into four categories. Of two dozen reports I’ve assessed, only two get a passing grade.

How can firms improve?This post will start with the first category: Leadership.

Read more…

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