Communicating sustainability is about more than information. Effectivecommunications change behavior, while information alone does not alwayslead to action. It is important to keep the message positive, fear-based campaigns based on negative messages often produce apathy.
Effectively communicating sustainability is about attractive campaigns that makesustainable lifestyles fashionable and "cool.
Policies andinfrastructure are also required to support and encourage people to make the right choices. Marketing support including a logo, advertising,video and presentations can also help to communicate sustainability.
Effective strategies for sustainable communications involve clearly defining thetarget audiences and the corresponding message. It is better to focus on a single, concrete issue rather than numerous different points. Makeconcrete objectives that are clear, realistic and achievable.
Conduct audience research – Use focus groups or telephone surveys to find outwhat motivates the intended audience? What do they read, watch, listento?
Translate the big vision into messages that are both personal to the audience and offer a defined response. Perform a SLEPT Analysis(Social, Legal, Environmental, Political and Technical issues) thatmight affect the campaign and find as much existing research aspossible.
Decide how these objectives will be achieved bydeveloping message(s) and defining channel(s). Do not overload anaudience with information; instead, focus on keeping a central threadrunning through the campaign, (eg: by using a consistent logo or branded statement). Identify how the particular audience prefers to receiveinformation; consider how social networks could be used to communicatethe message.
To assist with planning and implementation, develop a timeline that identifies communications milestones. Set up a green team steering group, as well as a campaign coordinator.
Measure andevaluate the communications – Decide how to measure the campaign andcontinually seek audience feedback. Document and report this evaluation. Make the plan readily accessible to team members and update it asneeded.
Regardless of what the research reveals, sustainablecommunications need to be tailored to the culture in which they arebeing launched.
Richard Matthews is a consultant, sustainable investor, writer and owner of The Green Market Oracle, a leading sustainable business blog that covers the convergence of sustainable capitalism and the global environment.The Green Market is one of the most comprehensive resources for information and tools on sustainability. Follow The Green Market's twitter feed and see the Facebook Fan Page. Richard is a contributor to more than 50 publications. Find him on Facebook and Linkedin.
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