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How PR can help brands communicate their environmental values and reach their target audience

Top Tips when it comes to Sustainability PR

Over the past five years there has been a 71% rise in online searches for sustainable goods, and research reveals that more than a third of consumers globally are willing to pay more for items that are eco-friendly.

According to a report, consumers named food and drink as one of the most important industries when it comes to sustainability, however only 19% said they had trust in the industry to do what’s right for the environment.

With sustainability a huge priority for consumers in the FMCG space, claims of eco-friendly products and sustainable alternatives have flooded the market – but so have accusations of greenwashing. According to research by The Independent, last year the number of adverts banned for greenwashing had tripled with 16 advertising campaigns found to be exaggerating their company’s green credentials or making environmental claims that couldn’t be backed up. As a result, brand adverts from Innocent Drinks, Alpro and Oatly were banned from appearing again in the same form.

Clearly, there is a fast-growing appetite from consumers for businesses to highlight both their ethical and sustainability practices when it comes to their products – but it’s vital this is done authentically.

So, the question is, how can PR help sustainable brands to communicate their environmental and ethical stances in the media and align themselves with their target audiences?

Define a unique selling proposition

Brands need to find their USPs and communicate them clearly. There is a lot of noise in the media around the topic of sustainability, which can make it difficult for both media and consumers to spot something that is genuinely unique and impact focused.

Through working with an agency, brands can identify at the early stage of a sustainability PR campaign, the key messages that they can and should be sharing with media and stakeholders – and most importantly, how to do this effectively. At The PHA Group, we have extensive experience in helping brands utilise a variety of tactics ranging from thought leadership opportunities to product reviews, to distribute such messages to key audiences, ensuring they get heard by the right people.

For example, we work with online grocery retailer, Approved Food dedicated to reducing waste and helping people save money by selling food and drink past its ‘best before’ date. Using a two-pronged approach we secured a targeted trade article in Grocery Gazette to demonstrate how the business is providing a solution to a big problem while another article we placed in the Express, gave tangible examples of this in action by profiling a consumer case study who frequently uses and benefits from shopping there.

Be mindful of greenwashing

Sustainability as a topic is never too far from the news agenda, which can make it difficult for businesses and brands alike to create the cut-through and impact they hope for when it comes to launching new policies and procedures. In some cases, this can lead to brands overpromising in a bid to gain more traction for an initiative. For this reason, it’s vital that brands make sure their claims are backed up – if they’re not, it could come back to bite them as consumers become savvier and more aware of greenwashing. Instead of making false claims, brands should focus on what progress they are committing to in the future and the tangible steps they have put in place to improve.

For example, to shine a light on how our client, Mornflake is on a mission to reduce waste, we secured this piece in Trend Hunter which discusses their new recyclable packaging and relates back to their brand truth around sustainable milling.

Don’t be afraid to bring the brand story to life

Whilst traditional press office tactics will always have their place in a well-structured communications strategy, brands that are looking to move the needle and really push key sustainability messages should consider more ambitious activations and campaigns to help create a buzz and make noise. This could include pop-ups, experiential events, digital campaigns, or even recruiting third-party advocates through influencer and ambassador content.

One example of this, is our recent work with B-Corp sparling water brand, DASH. In collaboration with The Goon Squad, we helped launch DASH’s quirky five-part video series, ‘DASH INTO THE LIMELIGHT’ , which sees ordinary people who accidentally rose to fame brought back to the forefront to mark the launch of its latest Lime flavour. The campaign was a great success, and was covered by a range of media titles including Mail Online, LadBible and The Grocer to name a few.

Multi-channel approach

We live in a world where consumers are continuously moving from one channel to the next. It’s important for brands that are planning on activating a sustainability PR campaign to also consider how to ensure their key messages are translated across both social media and digital platforms as we as via traditional PR.

The average person spends over two hours and 24 minutes a day on social media. Being able to utilise channels such as TikTok, Instagram or LinkedIn and serve key audiences with captivating compelling content is only going to help build brand affinity.

Staying on top of the news agenda

For brands to stand out against competitors, it’s important they stay on top of emerging conversations, trends and cultural phenomena. Sustainability is a big, ongoing topic of interest across all areas of the media and so things can change quickly.

Being able to respond quickly to breaking news stories with comments and quotes that add value to stories enables brands and spokespeople to position themselves as key commentators in the media, which can be a highly effective tactic to secure top-tier press coverage.

Using data and insights can also help to uncover the content key audiences want to see and engage in, helping to  inform ongoing and future ESG strategies.

If you would like to discuss how a Sustainability PR campaign could help to highlight your company’s environmental and ethical claims, get in touch today.

Get in touch with the team