What’s the value of a good sustainability performance if nobody knows about it? Communicating your success is an essential part of extracting value from your sustainability programme.
Successful communications demands good stories well told – and retold by others. And because your audiences are so diverse, you need help in finding them and attracting their attention.
We specialise in developing communications strategies and then helping you communicate.
A sustainability communications strategy will clearly identify objectives, audiences, key messages, channels (traditional and digital) and tactics. Your plan will ensure that all sustainability messaging supports and fortifies your broader corporate communications.
The rapid growth of digital channels, from tweets to blogs and social networking, has added a wide range of options to traditional media. Choosing the right channels is hard. But the principles remain the same: identify the audience, choose the channels that will provide the best access, and then use appropriate tactics to tell your story.
Your actions to improve your social and environmental performance will seldom make the news. But your progress and insights will have great value in positioning you as a thought leader.
For example, we will help you tell your story in executive speeches, written by those who know the audience and understand the issues. We will develop policy ideas in white papers and work with your partners in research organisations and industry bodies to produce readable research reports. We will write case studies and make sure they are read by those who will retell your story. We will help you blog and tweet (if appropriate).
Public opinion regarding the marketing, sale and consumption of alcohol is far from united. Whereas some people want to clamp down, others are more liberal in their approach. These disparate opinions set the rules that form alcohol makers’ “social license to operate”.
Brown-Forman, owner of spirit brands such as Jack Daniel’s and Southern Comfort, encourages debate and discussion through its online issues forum, OurThinkingAboutDrinking.com, which Context helps coordinate. The company invites experts to submit an opinion piece, and then garners comment from interested individuals (including you). The site is part of the company’s efforts to open up, listen to and act upon different points of view.
Brown-Forman has not shied away from tough topics such as ignition interlock devices, alcohol and sports sponsorship, alcohol and violence, and the minimum legal drinking age in the U.S.
For defence and aerospace company BAE Systems, understanding and communicating openly with stakeholders is an important part of its approach to corporate responsibility.
We have worked with the company since 2001, helping to launch its CR programme and accompanying report on performance. Since then, BAE Systems’ sector-leading CR reports have been frequently quoted. In 2010, we helped the company make the transition to integrated reporting, combining information on its ethical, social and environmental performance with its annual financial reporting. Context also helps develop the content for the accompanying website which provides further insight on how CR policies are put into practice at BAE Systems.
To gain feedback on the company’s CR strategy and reporting, Context organised and facilitated an external advisory panel, as well as engagement sessions with a wider group of stakeholders. Our other work with BAE Systems includes bespoke training and other communications.
Quality of Daily Life Solutions company Sodexo North America serves more than 10,000 meals each day and manages over 700 facilities across the continent. The company needed a solution to communicate its sustainability progress and performance to stakeholders on a regular basis.
Context helped develop and write content for a quarterly sustainability e-newsletter, “Spotlight on Sustainability…From Sodexo for a Better Tomorrow”. The newsletter was designed to be read online and on smart phones. Each quarter, stories focus on a different topic related to sustainability at Sodexo – from sustainable food and agriculture to health and wellness to carbon and energy. The newsletter provides ongoing progress reports on Sodexo’s Better Tomorrow Plan for sustainability.
The Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) brings together over 30 leading ICT companies – including telecommunications service providers and manufacturers – and is committed to achieving sustainability objectives through innovative technology.
Context worked with GeSI to produce its first public activity report in 2009, covering the initiative’s response to strategic issues including climate change, electronic waste and responsible supply chain.
Since then, we have helped to develop content for the GeSI website, including an update on activities to tackle conflict minerals in the ICT supply chain and an accompanying Q&A for members. Context has also facilitated a number of GeSI stakeholder engagement sessions in Switzerland, the UK and the USA.
The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) report
TEEB is building a comprehensive and compelling economic case for the conservation of biodiversity. It is the biodiversity equivalent to the Stern Review on Climate Change, aiming to reach an audience of global policymakers, economists and business people to stimulate action preventing biodiversity loss. Context edited the TEEB interim report, launched at the Conference of the Parties of the Biodiversity Convention in May 2008.
World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD): Energy Efficiency in Buildings (EEB) project
EEB gathered 14 multinationals from the building and energy sectors in Europe, North America and Japan to develop a business view on how to slash energy use in buildings – typically 40% of the total energy input in most countries. Context worked with the project team for three years to help develop the ideas and communicate them through publications and a blog. Our role included organising a workshop on the role of behaviour in energy use.
Helping Unilever communicate on biofuels
The science surrounding biofuels is complex and contested. The issue is important for Unilever, the global consumer goods business, because using biofuels from food crops can affect food and raw material prices. Context helped Unilever communicate its views in advance of proposed EU legislation. We worked with the public affairs team and technical experts to create a briefing, outlining their recommendations for the sustainable use of biofuels. The document was used in discussions with policy-makers and NGOs, and distributed to key employees.