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Environmental Sustainability Through PR Practices

Published on April 14, 2022, at 7:26 p.m. 
by Sophie Gregor.

Each year, the global annual temperature increases approximately 2 degrees Fahrenheit. Due to this increase, the effects of climate change have harmed people around the world. The negative effects for the people and environment caused by climate change will only worsen over time. If there are not positive changes made for the environment soon, catastrophic events may occur, such as forest fires, hurricanes, floods, droughts, heat waves and storms.

Not only is the temperature of the world getting hotter, but the world is also running out of room to dispose of waste. A little over 2.12 billion tons of waste is dumped annually, and a majority of it consists of items that have not been sorted. In the United States, there are no laws or rules that enforce recycling.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

According to Forbes, 30% of consumers stated they wanted to improve the environment and 23% wanted to reduce production waste. Large brands such as Disney, Johnson and Johnson, eBay and Nike have listened to what their consumers want, and have shifted their focus to prioritize helping the environment.

Agencies such as Sustainable PR, FINN Partners and the Environmental PR Group also noticed there is a strong need for an emphasis on sustainability through public relations practices. PR is vital for spreading the message of environmental sustainability either through a company’s products or through its social media platforms.

Tony DeFazio, founder and principal of Sustainable PR, has noticed that many other brands are now attempting to alter their products and brand statements to project an image of sustainability. These brands must be cautious of false advertising.

“Companies large and small are being held to account by informed consumers who are seeking eco-products,” DeFazio explained. “What we are seeing is that a lot of companies are getting damaged because a very active consumer base, driven by millennials, has grown up learning about climate change.”

He added, “If these consumers find they are being misled by [a] company’s environmental claims, they will call these companies out by taking to social media through viral videos or posts.”

DeFazio has worked in the media and public relations industry for almost 30 years. He has been an active volunteer for environmental and sustainable causes throughout his entire career. DeFazio wanted to combine his passion for the public relations industry while helping the planet; thus the idea for his new company was born.

Photo by Margot RICHARD on Unsplash

His company, Sustainable PR, revolves around the ideology of combining success while maintaining sustainability. As stated on its website, “Sustainable PR is partnering with innovators and market leaders, pioneering solutions to the challenges facing our planet. We represent startups, middle market, and public companies across many disciplines with a mission in sustainability.”

There is a large market for sustainability that is constantly expanding. DeFazio stated that “this is the market of all markets. This is the biggest market opportunity in generations. What we do at Sustainable PR is we offer ‘earned media’ service that provides critical third party validation in the media. We counsel companies that need to really think through their communications. Before focusing on the marketing aspect, companies should really focus on environmental social governance (ESG). ESG makes up the legs of a stool, as each component is necessary to help the other.”

Jane Madden is the global managing partner of sustainability and social impact at FINN Partners. She also stressed the importance of ESG.

“The first step is to develop a sustainability strategy that is integrated into the business and focuses on material environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance,” Madden explained. “A successful strategy can create value for the business and its stakeholders, including investors, talent and consumers. The second step is disclosing ESG performance and data in a report once a year and sharing your sustainability story year-round with targeted communications.”

FINN Partners has a goal of making a positive impact on the world. As stated on its website, “Whether inside our walls or on the front lines of business transformation and social change, we stand together to create meaningful and measurable impact on the world around us.”

According to Madden, “PR and communications professionals should be focused on supporting their clients with campaigns and messages that are based on data and transparency. At FINN, we do this by working with our clients to integrate sustainability into their business and communications strategies. We have 10 principles of sustainability communications, which include no greenwashing and protecting our clients while simultaneously promoting them.”

Photo by Tobias Weinhold on Unsplash

Environmental advocates are not the only people who can promote sustainability. PR professionals can help, as well. According to Honey Rand, CEO of the Environmental PR Group, “Good companies and PR professionals know what it costs to do business. When companies are net consumers (energy, water, etc.), they are draining the ‘system’ and paying more for doing it. However, smart companies have concluded that being neutral on the resources expended and resources generated is good for the bottom line.”

According to the Environmental PR Group website, it is a company that supports “projects, products, policies and people that promote economic vitality and environmental sustainability.”

Rand also shared multiple ways for those in the industry to save operational costs and the environment. Her “low-hanging fruit” includes investing in low flow toilets, sink sensors, water coolers with reusable cups, and recycling. These little changes in everyday routines can make a huge difference in the future.

It is more important than ever to start taking the correct steps toward the path of sustainability. The future of the Earth depends on it.

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