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Feb 28, 2024

Comunicar sustentabilidade de forma estratégica

 

Comunicar sustentabilidade

A “comunicação de sustentabilidade” não pode ser definida sem abordar o objetivo principal da Comunicação em contexto de negócio: o lucro. Como é que os profissionais da área podem comunicar sustentabilidade e alcançar simultaneamente a rentabilidade e a sustentabilidade para as suas organizações?

The profit-centered nature of traditional business communication is reinforced by "rewards" for achieving specific goals. But as awareness of corporate sustainability gains ground, we are beginning to question these traditional concepts and goals.

The current transition to sustainability communication is one of the most significant in recent years. The often negative impact of companies on society and the environment requires a different positioning. As professionals, we play a crucial role in influencing the public - both to reverse a culture of fast consumption and to encourage more sustainable purchasing decisions.

Melhorar o impacto das empresas nunca foi tão importante. Não integrar a sustentabilidade na estratégia de comunicação já não é uma opção. O planeta precisa de uma nova abordagem. Mas para praticar marketing sustentável, é preciso primeiro compreender o que significa e o seu papel no panorama geral da sustentabilidade.

 

What does sustainable communication mean?

Some describe sustainable communication as "the marketing of environmentally friendly or ecological products", while others say it consists of "not prioritizing profit over the planet".

However, most definitions form part of a much broader picture. To complete it, we have to look at the definition of sustainability itself.

 

Understanding sustainability or sustainable development

Uma das definições de sustentabilidade mais conceituadas é a de desenvolvimento que satisfaz as necessidades das gerações atuais sem comprometer as necessidades das gerações futuras (World Commission on Environment and Development). Este desenvolvimento é frequentemente identificado em três grandes áreas: económica, ambiental e social. As empresas devem criar riqueza para reduzir a pobreza, mas fazê-lo sem prejudicar o ambiente natural. Para tal, é necessário comunicar sustentabilidade, pensar a longo prazo e considerar conceitos como direitos humanos e justiça social, recursos naturais e resíduos.

 

But where do communication professionals fit in?

Definitions of sustainability can often be so broad or general that they seem to absolve us of any responsibility. "Meeting the needs of future generations" seems to be a task for the government or a large company.

To complicate matters further, the word "sustainability" means many things in the marketing world. Sustainability is usually used in other business concepts such as "sustainable competitive advantage" and "sustainable growth". In other cases, it simply means "resilience".

Sustainability communication should be practiced in small steps. It's true that professionals can't completely and immediately change an organization's positioning, but there are ways of orienting them towards this dimension. Some of these include:

 

Product development

Communication professionals can work with product design teams and other key decision-makers to achieve sustainability and profitability. Sustainability can be considered at every stage of the product development process, from the initial idea to the sourcing of raw materials and packaging considerations.

The issues are not always simple. A product may appear "green" according to some indicators, but not be truly necessary or sustainable. An example would be consumers buying products in recycled plastic packaging rather than without any packaging at all. It is essential to take into account the product's life cycle, both in terms of its environmental and social impact.

 

Strategy

When an organization is ready to embrace sustainability, marketing strategy becomes critical. Issues such as planned obsolescence, unsustainable packaging and the fast fashion are the direct effects of marketing strategies centered exclusively on capitalism and profit.

One proven strategy we can use is the use of "nudges", or subtle behavioral cues. For example, the researchers found that hotel restaurants that used "simple, non-intrusive stimuli", such as reducing the size of dishes and posting signs about waste, reduced the amount of food waste by around 20%.

By creating strategies that reduce waste and operating costs, we can help create a win-win situation for companies and consumers, while still embracing sustainability.

 

Branding/Advertising

The brand messages are one of the most powerful tools available to a communications professional. Imagine a world in which we take advantage of our possible visibility as consumer influencers to create brands and messages that lead consumers to make more sustainable purchasing decisions.

One of the most interesting aspects of being a professional in this field is seeing how strategies influence user behavior and create consumer cultures. An excellent starting point for practicing sustainability is to explore ways of facilitating more sustainable cultural behaviors through communication.

 

Partnerships

As empresas estão a aperceber-se de que a sustentabilidade não é uma questão de uma só organização. Para ter um impacto significativo, as empresas devem comunicar sustentabilidade e promover parcerias desta natureza. Para enfrentar desafios como a falta de uma definição comum ou de qualquer regulamentação, é possível a criação de um sistema comum de classificação de produtos para avaliar a sustentabilidade.

Partnerships at an even smaller level - such as at departmental level - may also be relevant. Collaboration between departments should be encouraged with regard to sustainability, reducing internal competition.

 

Education and awareness

Communication professionals can be real "educators" when it comes to sustainability. Every meeting with directors/CEOs and every communication strategy session is an opportunity to educate about sustainability.

For the public, we play the fundamental role of transforming the brand message into one that is more oriented towards sustainability. For managers, we can draw on studies that show that becoming a sustainable organization positively affects the bottom line. Given that the majority of business leaders and stakeholders are primarily concerned with profit, it is our duty to show them how implementing sustainable practices can increase the company's profitability and lead to a longer life cycle for products and organizations.

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