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Door: Carbon footprint management, 1 February 2014


Communicating about your carbon neutral business

Stakeholders can only recognize and appreciate your activities for reaching a carbon neutral business until they have been informed about them. Communication makes this an essential part of managing the CO2 footprint of your organization. Communication lets your employees, suppliers and customers understand where the organization is and where it wants to go. This inspires others to follow your example. Communication leads to inspiration within industries or product chains and initiates new activities that will further reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases.

Positioning

Communication about a carbon neutral business is also important for creating an authentic message or positioning in your market. When customers, employees and other stakeholders know what you have done as an organization, it will play a role in perception and appreciation. The purpose of the communication is then to influence positively the image that your organization’s stakeholders have. Communication about a carbon neutral business can thus improve the positioning or the image of the organization.

Effective communication

Communication about your carbon neutral business is most effective when the expressions in form, style and message match the other expressions of your organization. By being consistent and congruent in these features of expression, an overload or contradiction in your corporate communications will be prevented.

The most credible messages about a CO2 neutral business are those that another, external, party brings into the world. In other words, ” Let another tell the world how well you’ve done your business.” And when that other party is an independent expert in the field of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), climate change or carbon neutral business, it will again increase the credibility and thus the value of the communication.

There are international guidelines which help organizations to test their communications about their CSR policy. These reporting guidelines also give organizations the ability to work structured on their CO2 reporting and management. The Global Reporting Initiative ( GRI ) describes for example how organizations can communicate  about the management of their carbon footprint.

Communication plan

If you are planning to go carbon neutral or when you are already there, than it is a good thing to think about what you want to communicate to, for example customers , employees, suppliers or investors. The communication plan below gives you a short roadmap and things to take with you when you start communicating.

1. What are your goals ?
What do you want to change, compared to the current situation ? For example, do you want to increase the internal commitment, a repositioning of your organization or product, or gain free publicity in (local) media?

2. With which audience do you want to get in touch ?
Do all of your employees have to know about, for example, a new energy-efficient production process, or only a specific department ? Do you want to convince all of your existing customers that they should move to a new carbon neutral product? Or does your communication also has to attract new prospects? Each target group has different communication needs and a different background and knowledge of your organization. Adjust your communications accordingly .

3. What conditions?
How much time is left to create and send a certain message? Do you want to have photos or film with that message? What budget is available to meet the communication objective and which department within your organization will carry out this plan and pay for it?

4. Which media will you use ?
Do you limit yourself to an e-mail to colleagues or will you organize a meeting? Will you use magazines, newspapers or other print-media to communicate externally? Or will you set up a digital newsletter or a social media campaign with Facebook and/or Twitter ?

5 . Final evaluation
Are targets reached? Has the message and media reached its objectives or is adjustment needed? Was the choice of media OK, or will you make another decision the next time?

Also read our blog post “CSR and Communication: Practise what you preach”.

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