Sustainability is defined as, taking action to “prevent the depletion of natural or physical resources so that they will remain available for the long term” (What is Sustainability? How Sustainabilities Work, Benefits, and Example ). However, when it comes to Public Relations (PR) role in showcasing a business’s sustainability, the concept goes beyond encouraging environmentalism and aims to display the “effect a business has on the environment, and the effect a business has on society, with the goal of sustainable practice being to have a positive impact on at least one of those areas”(What is Sustainability? How Sustainabilities Work, Benefits, and Example).
For a business to take on a level of responsibility for sustainability, it is important that it’s consumers and audience know their sustainability goals and how they are being achieved. Because there are so many ways to contribute to being a more sustainable business, it can be challenging to select an attainable goal that prioritizes the long-term effects a business has on the environment over an immediate, material reward. This is where having experience in PR is beneficial.
PR is meant to help maintain relationships with consumers and stakeholders by developing strategies to tell an audience who a business is and what is important to them. Therefore, if becoming a more sustainable business is a company’s goal, then PR experts will be the best at generating a unified presentation of a company’s motions to improve. They can help select the best ways to become more sustainable and how to showcase these improvements to the ideal audience. If a business does not value the clarity and transparency with which they present its efforts toward being sustainable, then it becomes very easy to be perceived as greenwashing.
Greenwashing is “a form of messaging spin in which green PR and green marketing are allegedly used solely to convince the public that an organization’s products, aims and policies are environmentally friendly” (Greenwashing: How Can PR and Comms Clean Up Their ESG Messaging?). With the rapid increase in businesses embracing sustainability and prioritizing environmentalism, greenwashing and greenwashing accusations are “quickly becoming a new crisis management concern across industries” (Greenwashing: How Can PR and Comms Clean Up Their ESG Messaging?). In order to avoid the damaging effects of consumers perceiving a business as being untrustworthy or fake, PR can help businesses share their shortcomings at being sustainable. In doing so, it becomes obvious to the viewer that the business is not presenting itself as sustainable to make a profit, rather they aim to encourage others to continue to pursue sustainable business habits for long-term benefits despite short-term mistakes or hindrances.
By prioritizing the story of the business and its relationship to the consumer, PR can support businesses in crafting strategies to obtain sustainability goals that work best for their business and the environment.
If you need help incorporating sustainability into your business, contacting a PR firm like Sammis|Ochoa is a great place to start!
By Lily Brennan
Sammis|Ochoa is San Antonio’s fastest-growing public relations and digital marketing agency. It is the 2020 recipient of the TinyAward for Happiest Employees in Public Relations. It also ranks as one of San Antonio’s best PR firms by Design Rush. The firm is headquartered in San Antonio and serves clients in Austin, Houston and San Antonio. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 210.390.4284 to amp up your PR game!