Written by Lily Barnes • Published 16th September 2019 • 6 minute read

The word “sustainability” is everywhere. It was a major topic at the recent G7 meeting in Biarritz, David Attenborough made a famous intervention at Glastonbury this year about cutting plastic, and more and more brands are making a statement about becoming greener. We see new sustainable brands emerging every week from beauty to fashion and food, so how can a brand stand out?

One important thing to remember is that it’s not because it’s sustainable that people will buy your product. People will buy your product because it is useful to them and sustainability is a nice addition. Consumers are also very interested in a brand’s story, they need to understand why you’ve come up with the product idea, and what it means to you. The notion of authenticity is vital when talking about sustainability. And this is how a PR agency can help you, it’ll give you the power to tell your brand’s story to the world.

PR firms are sometimes seen as the advocate of the devil helping brands make false claims and glossing up reputations. But PR could also be an agent for change. Show the world the great brands that are around and trying to make a difference in our world. Hopefully, PR companies can have the power to generate positive future change and accelerate progress.

As we become more aware of the impact our lifestyles and practices have on the environment, it is up to every area of a business to become more carbon-neutral and finding sustainable solutions. Brands now need to align themselves with the environmentally-conscious mindset of modern-day consumers and show that they have a genuine interest in our plant. This is where we can help.

New hijacking:

The world of PR is all about finding the perfect time to send your press release to journalists. It might seem simple, but it’s not. It’s about seeing the perfect opportunity to link a client story when a hot news story has just come out. Once you’ve spotted your opportunity, then all journalists will happily talk about your side of a story and link it to the brand or agenda that was mentioned. This is a chance for a company to comment on the news or join the discussion and make sure that your brand’s name is mentioned in national media.

As an example, we worked with online affordable renewable energy, Octopus Energy, to support their media relations and creative campaigns. We established the CEO as a go-to industry commentator on all things energy and sustainability-related by hijacking the news. This resulted in 140 pieces of coverage, 48 national articles and 5 broadcast appearances.

Awareness days:

If you’re on Twitter or Instagram, you’ll be aware of all those awareness days going on daily. This can help PR and brands build together their content calendar in advance. If you’re a sustainable brand you might want to participate in Zero Waste Week (September) and show how you can join the debate. It’s always a good idea to coincide product launches with relevant news-worthy occasions, which gives a journalist two topics in one.

As an example, we worked with a collective of engineers and scientists, called Epicuro, that have spent years researching and developing a device that can separate salt from oceanic water. They invented the Epicuro Desalinator, a battery-less technology that can yield 40 litres of clean water a day using a free power source that’s abundant in the developing the world: the sun. With World Water Day 2019 around the corner, we helped them create different assets and videos and started our outreach with the mainstream media on that day.

Finding the right journalist:

Good news is, editors and journalists are happy to engage with the topic of sustainability because for them it’s something that’s new and interesting and an ever-evolving discussion, but you must have your own view and unique point on it. They’re understanding that as an editor they must engage in sustainability because it’s the future; it’s not a trend that’s going to go away. So, finding the right journalist who is happy to cover a sustainable and ethical story is crucial. At The PHA Group, we have great relationships with journalists across print, broadcast, online and influencers. We’ll always push the story to the right journalist, knowing what will pique their interest.

Thought leadership:

Thought leadership is great for showing that your leadership team or even you care about your work or business and show your commitment by explaining your goal to a wide audience. It’s a great opportunity to show that you’re an expert in your field and why you want to pioneer a sustainable message for your business and show the media that you have a genuine interest in the environment.

There’s so much to educate yourself on in order to be able to talk authentically about a sustainable project. Make sure you are media trained to ensure you know how to talk about your brand in a confident manner and that you’re ready for any questions propositioned by a journalist. If you’re watching Dragon’s Den, for example, you’ll see that investors are asking a lot of questions regarding business models and how sustainable their business really is, there’s no room for errors. Our team of experts can help you get ready for any questions and show you how to speak in front of the camera or whilst being recorded. We have former journalists running workshops with brands to help them with any issue they might face.

Use the right influencers:

Finding the right influencers to represent your business or brand is key. We know that influencer marketing can be extremely effective to a business, but we also know that you can’t just go to any influencers, you need to do a lot of research before you approach them to understand who their audience is and what type of content they produce. It’s just about finding the right individuals that will support and engage with your ethics. Remember it is all about authenticity!

We have a wide network of influencers we work with on a regular basis, where we incorporate a stringent vetting process. We recently worked with PHA client Ethique, the world’s first zero-waste beauty brand, to launch in the UK. One of our tactics was to engage with relevant influencers in the beauty, vegan and sustainable space to tap into their online communities. This, in turn, helped raise brand awareness and generate interest in the product range. More than 16 influencers endorsed the brand on their social media channels, raving about the company’s eco-credentials and zero-waste promise, with a combined reach of 1.5 million.

Create your own event

If you live and breathe sustainability and your goal is to help others to become more sustainable, then why not organise your own event? This could include a fun event where you can invite journalists to come and participate in something like making a sustainable dinner for example or learning how to knit. But you could also organise a summit if you’re a bigger brand, like Lush for example which ran a Lush summit two years in a row. The purpose was to give people the chance to learn more and join in on topics spanning human rights, animal rights, and the environment. This summit gives Lush the chance to show their audience how engaged they are as a brand and also to educate people on what other brands should be doing.

If you’re a sustainable brand in need of PR, please get in touch today to see how our team of experts can help you achieve your goals.