What is sustainable PR and how can it help my business?

20/05/2024 16:27:58
Given the global race against time to tackle the climate crisis, there’s an urgency for all businesses to consider their environmental impact. Not only does being more sustainable help future-proof your business as the UK works towards reaching its 2050 environmental goals, but it could also help you gain more customers and attract talent.

What is sustainable public relations (PR)?

In our world today, where social consciousness is on the rise, businesses are not merely judged by financial performance but also by their dedication to sustainability, including their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles. 

Businesses are operating in a more sustainable way, not just because it’s good for the planet, but because ESG considerations are becoming more important to investors, customers, employees, and other stakeholders in assessing a company's reputation, values, and its long-term viability.

Promoting your green credentials is the role of sustainable public relations, also known as ESG PR.

As the significance of ESG continues to increase, so does the role of sustainable public relations in effectively communicating a company's ESG activities and values. ESG public relations has emerged as a vital aspect of corporate communication, helping businesses establish trust, engage stakeholders, and enhance their reputation.

An ESG PR strategy should enhance the profile of an organisation’s responsible activity. If companies do not engage in a comprehensive PR strategy that centres on their sustainable practices, they will fail to resonate with their key audiences and maintain a positive reputation. 
Sustainable PR

Transparency is key to sustainable PR

Whatever your environmental track record, erring on the side of transparency is always the best policy. While PR professionals are keen to tell a good story, it’s best not to greenwash – to exaggerate or make false claims about your environmental credentials and activities. Remain authentic and transparent in what you communicate and show the world evidence of your actions, progress, and success.

No one is expected to be perfect, so set out your roadmap of actions and develop a sincere narrative that shows your intent over time, and don’t be afraid to admit there is room for improvement. 

Transparent dialogue with internal stakeholders is especially important to build advocacy in support of your long-term goals. Employees thrive in environments where they feel their work contributes to a greater purpose. A robust internal communications strategy will ensure that your employees are on board with your company’s ESG initiatives and messaging. It also means that employees can be engaged in delivering solutions in line with your ESG practices, for example by reducing energy usage, or taking up community volunteering opportunities.  

Crucially, you should use sustainable PR to keep your ESG practices authentic and make sure they are being communicated as such. 

How sustainable PR can help attract talent

Being a sustainability-sound business isn’t just about winning new customers: it can also help attract talent to your company. Around 55% of Gen Z and millennials said they research brands’ environmental impact and policies before accepting a job, according to a recent Deloitte survey.

By prioritising sustainability within your business ethos and operations, you can attract top talent. Not only will it help you attract the right people into the business, but employees who share your values are far more likely to stay with your organisation, too.

How to market your green credentials

Becoming a more sustainable business brings benefits – from reducing waste and lowering operating costs to complying with regulations and attracting new customers.

As a sustainable business you’ve adapted your processes, operations, and supply chain to reduce your environmental impact and now it’s time to tell people about it.
  • Update your website: and think about adding a sustainability section that highlights all your actions and initiatives.
  • Sign up to an independent charter or certification that validates your green practices. Here at Partners PR, we’ve signed up to The Good Business Charter, and there are other initiatives such as B Corp certification and ISO accreditations that reflect sustainable business operations.
  • Use social media: engage with your stakeholders on social media, follow influencers, and demonstrate your sustainability credentials through creative content, videos and stories.
  • Newsletters: include news about your ESG and sustainability credentials in customer and staff newsletters.
  • Brand your green initiative and support your customers to get involved. We recently worked with Saint-Gobain Glass to create its 'Glass Forever' brand. The initiative encourages its entire supply chain to recycle old building glass, which the company then re-manufactures into new, high-performance glass that can be re-used in residential and commercial buildings.
  • Publish a regular report that details key metrics - such as carbon emissions - and transparently charts your progress to meeting your targets.
  • Form partnerships with organisations that align with your values. One of the ways we give back to the local community is by being a member of employee-volunteering charity York Cares. We give our team one day every month to get involved in community initiatives, and York Cares facilities a number of activities that we can support. You might consider collaborations with your industry associations or community groups.
  • Tell your stories in relevant media: sharing real-life examples and showcasing the tangible impact of ESG efforts make for interesting stories that can create a meaningful connection with your audiences.
  • Surveys and stakeholder engagement: actively engage with stakeholders. Listen to their perspectives, address any concerns, and encourage two-way communication. This fosters a sense of ownership and builds trust.

Crafting a compelling narrative through sustainable PR

The power of sustainable PR is to develop a compelling and consistent narrative that highlights the company’s commitment to ESG principles. This narrative should connect with stakeholders on an emotional level, be easy to understand by avoiding jargon, and demonstrate how the company is making a positive impact around issues that align with its overall brand and values.

Sustainable PR can enable a business to effectively communicate its commitment to sustainability and social responsibility. This not only meets stakeholder expectations but also enhances reputation, builds trust, and contributes to long-term business success.

Authenticity, stakeholder engagement, clear communication, and continuous improvement are key principles to guide ESG PR efforts and ensure their effectiveness.

Simply put, ESG practices are no longer optional. They are a business imperative to remain competitive in today’s market.

If you need help telling your sustainability story, contact us today.

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