Environmental Communications – What’s in it for you?

All projects with a real or perceived environmental impact can benefit from communications. What projects have you read about in the papers or seen on TV recently?

This week it’s all about water; either too much – flooding along the Shannon / CFRAMS, or too little; Irish Water, extracting Water from the Shannon for use on the East Coast. A more in depth look at the media, details comments on illegal dumping, a “holistic green approach to beef production”, Paris Agreement – “profound changes ahead for Ireland”, “move to carbon neutrality will hit every home in every sector emitting greenhouse gases” and lastly “Irelands Energy – we’re afraid of fracking, we don’t like wind turbines and we don’t have enough oil. Any chance we might cut down on energy usage?”

So glancing at the media shows the multitude of business types that are affected by environmental matters. Water, farming, waste, legislation, exploration, energy and many more, are all linked intrinsically to the environment. Not only are these industries associated with the environment but they are also associated with comments and opinions and therefore require communications.

Imagine if your company was working with, or involved in one of these projects; wouldn’t you like your story put across accurately and positively?

Looking at the current tender’s pages, I see more and more tenders that include a requirement for communications. For example, each and every tender from Irish Water includes a significant score for communications / stakeholder engagement. Tenders from Local Authorities, County Councils, Schools, road schemes, waste management facilities, wind and solar farms, housing and industrial developments, all have a section on communications / stakeholder engagement.

In fact, looking at the tenders for the week, quite a number have some kind of actual or perceived environmental impact and all of these have also a varying element of communications or stakeholder engagement as an integral part of the tender process.

So apart from giving you an edge in tenders which require communications or stakeholder engagement what can communications achieve for you and your company? Without seeming to be trite, it really depends on what you do, your products and services, and who you are doing it for. Most of all, it depends on what you want to achieve, what you want to say.

You might like to tell potential clients what you are doing in the sustainability area; you might want more people to know about your service or products. You may need to explain complex issues or technologies to your stakeholders on a certain project. You may be applying for planning permission or licensing and you will need to engage with your stakeholders to achieve your goals. You may need to communicate with the residents in your area. There are many reasons to communicate and very few reasons why you shouldn’t.

In addition, on that point, about not communicating, here is some advice. Quoting the Greek Philosopher and scientist Aristotle, who is accredited as coining the phrase “horror vacui” which means “Nature Abhors a Vacuum”. The same is true in communications terms “communications abhors a vacuum”.

If people are talking about your project, your company, your services, and are not being given any information, or the right information, at the right time, in the right way, their thoughts and feelings become fact. Without communications, perceptions become fact. “Perception = Reality” when it comes to communications.

Company’s reputations can be easily damaged by a communications vacuum. How much easier would it be to engage with people proactively as they talk about you and your projects? How easy would it be to give them the facts in a way they can understand, rather than have them discuss your products, services or projects and develop their own negative perception about your operation?

Communications around the environment and sustainable arena is very different to other areas of strategic communications. It requires an understanding of the complex issues concerning the natural environment and ecosystems as well as the specialist skills required to communicate about complex and challenging projects.

ECCL is the only communications consultancy in Ireland that has the specific knowledge, skillset and experience to help companies engage with their audiences around any environmental concerns.

It amazes me how people working in “environmental communications” have no experience working directly in PR, have little knowledge of environmental issues, and cannot communicate in plain English with their stakeholders.

If you have a sustainable project you are working on, or an environmental problem, or indeed are putting together a tender that requires communications and stakeholder engagement, why not contact ECCL and let us partner with you.

http://www.sustainability-ireland.com/magazine.php