You may have seen our announcement this week that we’ve rolled out a new sustainability PR specialty here at Sling & Stone. We’re pumped about it as we see it as an opportunity to do even more work with sustainable brands who are putting the planet first, fighting climate change and having a tangible impact on our environment.
We've been partnering with sustainable brands for years, and at the end of 2019, it became obvious that the team had not only developed a strong passion for this type of work, but also a unique approach for telling stories that cut-through the green-washing clutter. Off the back of recent successful campaigns with Future Super, ZeroCo, Maoneng, KeepCup and GlamCorner we realised there is an art to sustainability PR. Working with brands that are standing up for the planet requires expertise, and we want to give them the focus they deserve.
We live in a time when kids are skipping school for the environment and summers are characterised by three-month bushfires and tropical floods. There is an obvious and urgent need for effective communications strategies for sustainable brands that will change the future. We like to call this PR with Purpose and I’m personally proud to be part of an agency that empowers work like this.
So what’s the secret to doing sustainability PR? Well there’s no one size fits all approach, but through our work we’ve found that there are 3 things that are absolutely critical for creating smart communications campaigns for sustainable brands.
1. Deep experience sustainability communications strategies.
Climate, energy, waste, and food sustainability are complex industries with entirely new challenges, and no roadmap. To create campaigns and strategies that work, you need advisors and teams who have done this work before. You want to work with teams that know the ins-and-outs of climate regulations and policies so they can help you lobby the federal government and work with local councils to maximise your impact.
You also want sustainability experts who are aware of the existing consumer behaviour challenges (ie convenience culture) and know how to work around these.
And lastly, you’ll need teams that are across the latest sustainability trends - like code-breaking, a trend where consumers are looking to brands to break an industry code in the name of sustainability.
The trends change monthly, sometimes daily, and knowing where to lean in and what to avoid is critical.
2. A network of connections across media, social, startups and government in sustainability.
With so much noise in this space, getting cut through for brands of any size can be hard. Changing behaviour (of businesses and governments, not just consumers), is even harder. It comes as no surprise that there’s value in having a wealth of relationships with the right people. You want to know the media, influencers, thought leaders, like-minded brands and stakeholders who specialise in telling stories about environmental change.
But it isn’t about just having a list of people you can cold call. What you need is the in-depth knowledge on what makes each person on that list tick and, ideally, an existing relationship with them, so they’re motivated to take your call.
The network effect can be hugely beneficial in helping a sustainability campaign scale and move quickly, two things that are instrumental in driving change. We’ve seen this benefit a handful of our partners, many of whom are now working together to support each other on campaigns.
We’ve always known that a team performs the strongest when they’re working on something they care about, both inside and outside of the office. It’s why we have the “opt-in” policy for every partner we work with. Each Slinger has to opt in to the team so that every one of our partners is working with a team who genuinely wants to do that type of work.
Within sustainability, we think passion is more important than ever. Brands need to work with teams who “walk the talk” on these issues, particularly if that team is the one spreading their message to the public. The team’s passion also fuels their sense of urgency, their creativity and their determination to succeed in what can sometimes feel like an overwhelming fight in the face of climate deniers and government inaction.
While there’s a whole lot more nuance that goes into executing a sustainability PR campaign, these three things are what we consider the non-negotiables for success. If your team has a deep experience in sustainability comms, the right connections and a passion for the work, you’ll have the foundation in place to create a strong communications campaign.
Any questions, please feel free to say hi, and drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.