Communicating about your carbon neutral business
Stakeholders can only recognize and appreciate your activities for reaching a carbon neutral business when they have been informed about them. Communication is an essential part of managing the CO2 footprint of your organization. It makes your employees, suppliers and customers understand what the organization is about and what it pursues. 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.
It’s important to create an authentic message or positioning in your market in your communication about a carbon neutral business. It can positively influence the perception and appreciation of your business when customers, employees and other stakeholders know what you have done as an organization. Communication about a carbon neutral business can thus improve the positioning or the image of your business.
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 with 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 thus the value of the message.
There are international guidelines which help organizations to test their communication about their CSR policy. These reporting guidelines give organizations the ability to work on their CO2 reporting and management with structure. For example, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) describes how organizations can communicate about the management of their carbon footprint.
If you are planning to go carbon neutral or when you are already there, it is a good thing to think about what you want to communicate to customers, employees, suppliers or investors. The communication plan below gives you a short roadmap and factors to take into account you when you start communicating.
1. What are your goals?
What do you want to change, compared with the current situation? For example, do you want to increase the internal commitment, go for 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 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 have to attract new prospects? Each target group has different communication needs and a different background and knowledge of your organization. Adjust your message accordingly .
3. What are the 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 Meta and/or Twitter ?
5 . Final evaluation
Have the predetermined targets been reached? Has the message and media reached its objectives or is adjustment needed? Was the choice of media the right one or will you make a different choice the next time?