The Great Reset

What can PR people do to support a greener Irish communication sector?

Following the launch of The Great Reset in the UK & Ireland in 2020 a group of public relations and communication professionals in Ireland have been meeting online to discuss the implications of Covid-19 for the Irish communication industry and what the Covid ‘pause’ may present when it comes to more sustainable communication practices.

Sustainability can seem daunting - how can one person, one agency, one comms team make a difference? But small changes can have a big impact. With lockdown measures changing consumer behaviour, now feels like the right moment to examine the positive planet impact the lockdown slow down is having, and look at how the communication community can support and drive continued sustainable change.

What can you do?

The Working Group of agency, in-house and internal communication professionals has identified Ten Tangible Ways whereby public relations and communication professionals can really make an impact when it comes to better practice for the world we live in. Throughout 2021, the Group will be hosting guest speakers, running workshops, attending international online gatherings and sharing information to encourage a more sustainable communications industry.

Want to get involved?

If you would you like to be involved in The Great Reset Irish PR Working Group email Loading.... Supported by the PRII, the group is open to anyone working in or studying communication and public relations in Ireland.

Stay in touch — we’ll update you on the activities of the Great Reset Irish PR Working Group here and in the weekly PRII ezine.  Get started today by reading and reflecting on the Ten Tangible Ways below: -

TEN TANGIBLE WAYS TO BRING PLANET POSITIVITY TO PR AND COMMUNICATION

The Great Reset Irish PR Working Group encourage those in the industry to consider how they can be a part of a greener Irish communication industry and bring effective conversation and change to businesses and organisations.

CHANGING THE CONVERSATION

  1. UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS CAN BE POSITIVE
    1. Businesses need to move towards a more sustainable planet. If you feel your business/client is acting in a way that doesn’t serve the planet - open up the conversations and ask questions. Encourage change and offer to be a part of that change.
    2. Encourage awareness of The Triple Bottom Line: People, Planet and Profit and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
  1. GREENWASHING BE GONE
    1. Always question the promotion of a ‘sustainable behaviour’ and evidence to support it. Ask how the sustainable behaviour is being measured? What will the impact be? Is there another practice at the business that might contradict this move?
  1. A NEW LEAF FOR THE BRIEF
    1. For agencies: it is worth looking at how you can build in questions about the planet into a briefing template. Ask clients what impact this launch will have on the environment, how it could better the planet, and whether there is a more sustainable approach.
    2. In-house: Ask your agencies about their approach to sustainability and include this as a question when you’re going out to tender.
    3. The Purpose Disruptors in the UK recently launched #ChangeTheBrief which (whilst focused on the advertising industry) unpicks how the briefing process can be adopted for a greener outcome. Read here.
  1. BABY STEPS, BRIGHTER FUTURES
    1. If every organisation had sustainability sorted, we wouldn’t be in the position we’re in today. This is not about finger pointing and blame, it’s about asking questions, and encouraging open dialogue. Even one conversation can start a shift with lasting positive ripple effects. Having an ambition towards becoming more green is powerful, and taking small steps towards that ambition is progress. Don’t underestimate those baby steps.
    2. For management; tell your people about these successes - they’ll feel part of the journey. Make sure to highlight those responsible to recognise their efforts.
  1. USE OUR SKILLS FOR BIGGER ISSUES
    1. Think about using your skills to assist a not-for-profit, charity or business for good, to lobby legislation that encourages a greener planet.
    2. For management; give your people the opportunity to volunteer their skills for a sustainable cause - and consider supporting a sustainable cause as part of your organisation’s corporate social responsibility strategy.
  1. BACK IT UP WITH DATA AND MEASUREMENT
    1. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence to showcase changing behaviours in certain cohorts and powerful growing consumer segments. This can be backed up with specific research, from consumer insights, purchasing behaviour and wider segmental research (eg Forbes, HBR), which illustrates the desire amongst consumers for access to more sustainable products and services.
    2. For management; ask your people what matters to them - and how your business can adapt to be more sustainable. This could be through a quick survey, focus groups or even informal conversations.
    3. Integrate sustainable objectives into your communications strategies from the outset. Adding measureable green goals can guide campaigns and support accountability. It will also allow teams to benchmark their progress. Consider setting objectives such as: to reduce (or eliminate) printed collateral for face-to-face events when they resume; increase web traffic to a brand’s CSR section of their website; or engage and mobilise employees on a sustainability initiative.
    4. New thinking in the area of marketing measurement was launched recently by The Purpose Disruptors in the UK; Eco-Effectiveness. This examines how sustainability measurement can be brought into marketing and communication campaigns.

COMMUNICATION OPERATIONS

  1. ZERO WASTE MEDIA DROPS AND CORPORATE GIFTS
    1. Use biodegradable materials for media drops and gifts for colleagues and clients
    2. Question sending out media drop or gift items, unless the recipient has confirmed they would like to receive it in advance, to prevent wastage.
    3. Consider using suppliers with sustainable credentials - and buy local where possible.
  1. A CAP ON TRANSPORT
    1. Question taxis and couriers being used when there are more sustainable options - could you walk or take public transport to meetings? Is there a cycle courier or electric vehicle option in your area?
    2. For management; offer your people incentives to travel sustainably through schemes like Bike to Work and TaxSaver.
  1. FLEXIBLE WORKING
    1. One of the benefits of the digitisation of work accelerated by the COVID environment is that there is an opportunity to take more cars off the road and offer staff work-from-home options, either full-time or a hybrid of home and office.
    2. Review or create a flexible working policy that puts your people at the centre of your organisation and supports them to work in ways which suit their needs through the pandemic and into the future.
  1. ZOOM, DON’T FLY
    1. The world is far smaller when you take it online. When international travel opens up again, question work-related travel.

Contributors

Laura Wall, Group Account Director (PR & Advocacy) - Thinkhouse, Trudi McDonald, Communications Officer, Fáilte Ireland, Emily Maher, Communications Manager, Deloitte North and South Europe at Deloitte, Laura Greer, Founder, Etch , Communications, Jessica Fok, Senior Consultant, Strategic Communications, Turley, Sharon Edge, Founder, The Purpose Edge, Padraig McKeon, President, PRII, Dr Martina Byrne, Chief Executive, PRII & PRCA

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