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Research shows brands are failing to communicate sustainability efforts

Credit: Rimm Sustainability report

With the new year already well on its way, there is still an opportunity to align your strategies with key priorities. Now is the perfect opportunity for PR and marketing professionals to take a fresh look at their strategy and evaluate the next steps.

In 2024, we should expect an increased emphasis on sustainability and ethical marketing, with a focus on environmental, social, and governance practices, and a push for greater inclusion and diversity in marketing campaigns.

Communication gaps

This recent report from Rimm Sustainability found that many businesses across the UK are missing a trick when it comes to communicating their sustainability efforts. Whilst 80% of UK SMEs are taking part in ESG reporting, only 40% view it as valuable material for external marketing purposes. For businesses that are making genuine, measurable progress on their sustainability journey, this is a missed opportunity.

The survey also found that currently the most popular channel for communicating sustainability efforts is internally with employees (62%). Whilst internal communications will forever be an important channel, marketers should make the most of the work that has gone into measuring a firm’s sustainability practices and consider how they can communicate this progress authentically with external stakeholders too.

This includes social media. At the moment only 56% of UK SMEs are using their website and social media channels to report on their commitment to sustainability. If your firm is putting real effort into becoming more sustainable and achieving good progress, marketers must consider a multi-channel approach to communicating it. 

Win talent as well as new business

Not only can marketing your firm’s progress help build trust and win new clients, but it also plays an important role in recruitment and retention. This is because today’s working population is more likely to work for a company that is committed to sustainability. In fact, a recent study found that 42% of working adults agree that they’re more likely to work for a company with a commitment to environmental initiatives.

By developing an effective marketing strategy that promotes your company’s values and genuine commitment to sustainability, you can help your firm in the ongoing war for talent.

Don’t forget the ‘S’ in ESG

Beyond environmental progress, more needs to be done on social practices, as we transform human capital into competitive advantage.

My hope this year is that the ‘S’ in ESG becomes a greater priority, with inclusion and diversity becoming a central theme. Specifically, that social aspects that relate to brands’ human capital are highlighted authentically, affecting how campaigns are designed and executed, and giving a platform to historically marginalised voices.

There is a promise and commitment fatigue in the market, and many brands risk losing their identity, what they stand for, and potentially clients in the process. This year, we should expect an increased demand for transparency, authentic messaging, and reporting in a bid to build long-term trust.

Written by Dr Leeya Hendricks, chief marketing officer at Rimm Sustainability

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