Role of PR in Driving the Sustainability Agenda

The call for environmental sustainability is global, with both the public and organizations urged to embrace sustainable practices. Towards this end, public relations is an essential tool to drive that conversation; and it is very effective if utilized strategically. As a dynamic vehicle for positive behaviour changes, it creates an atmosphere of best business practices, of which environmental sustainability is one of them.

As a communications specialist, one of the main roles is communicating latest policies being adopted by an organization to the public. To drive the sustainability agenda, such communication can be used to showcase how an organization is playing its part in adopting sustainable business practices. Key areas to cover include; the choice of materials used in manufacturing, use of green technology and adoption of pollution control policies. In the fashion industry, we are becoming more aware of the use of recycled fabrics due to conversations being initiated by industry players as part of environmental sustainability.

In telling stories of companies’ sustainability efforts, PR is able to bring specific ideas on sustainability to prominence and make them acceptable across the board. Most of us know of several ways we can take care of the environment such as the famous reduce, reuse, recycle slogan. This did not happen by accident, it has taken years of consistently spreading, speaking and engaging on that message until it is now acknowledged and accepted throughout the globe.

In driving the sustainability agenda, communicating and bringing to the forecourt ideas on environmental sustainability, while admirable, is not enough. The public will also need to be kept up-to-date on progress being made on the various initiatives adopted. They will be interested to know what the progress has been since an organization announced a shift in policy, or adopted a new standard. Key questions being if it is successful, and to what extent. This information is crucial in, not only informing, but encouraging and giving credibility to a sustainability idea. More and more organizations are then able to follow suit and for those resisting, the public is able to pressure them into it.

Bearing in mind that PR acts as a link between an organization and the public, organizations can use it as a platform to assess the concerns of the public, such as customers on matters regarding sustainability and consider implementing viable recommendations brought forward regarding their operations. This goes a long way in increasing interactions between those organizations and their stakeholders, and even facilitates information exchange with experts on sustainable methods and practices that could be employed. The public can then be co-opted as partners in driving sustainability which will increase awareness and drive widespread adoption of environmental sustainability ideas.

PR can be used to make environmental sustainability hip and trendy so that it gains widespread appeal and adoption within certain sections of the public. In life, things that are good for us are almost always never fun or enjoyable to do and sustainability is no exception. Most of what we are advised to do is inconvenient to our used-to lifestyle. But with creatively crafted public awareness initiatives, this perception can be tackled and behaviours changed that puts emphasis on sustainability in everything that we do.

The need for the world to adopt environmentally friendly practices in all areas has never been greater as it is currently. This, therefore, calls for concerted effort to find ways of getting the public to live sustainably. Like everything else that gained global adoption, communication and public engagement is key to driving that agenda.