A growing number of companies and municipalities are producing reports highlighting their sustainability achievements of the previous year. If your business or municipality is not currently creating such a report to highlight your green achievements (whether done to impress those interested in green achievements or not) is missing an opportunity to communicate a positive story in an open way to critical stakeholders who are craving reading such positive news. A Sustainability Report is an essential piece of any communication effort, but is often overlooked in working on the program, as many focus only on making the goals. But a success not communicated reduces its impact.
Reporting efforts do not have to be a major undertaking. To get started first determine who your audience is. Which stakeholders are most likely to read the report and what facts or style are they looking for? Sustainability will impact different parts of your entity, but by focusing on who follows such news the most, you can keep it short and simple while establishing the credentials to satisfy your most important stakeholders.
With this information, identify the focus of your report and the message you want to get across to the key stakeholders who care deeply about sustainability. What information do you want to give to the readers and how do you want to get it across to them? Should it be short and factual in nature? Or by a narrative as if you are telling a story?
Whether your report is factual with bullets or with more text, at one point your report will communicate facts and data about your sustainability program or projects. Therefore, it is critical that it state data and it needs to be right. What metrics are you using to demonstrate progress? Is it the same commonly used by other organizations? Double check that, for example, the reductions in energy or water usage that were calculated are correct and beyond reproach. Data will likely be checked by stakeholders or perhaps those who may be critical of your effort. If the data is off or not the whole truth in summarizing the project, your entity may be criticized and worse off.
As you can tell, this is a complex effort and should not be undertaken by a single, even smart, well-meaning person. Because you are looking at message, data, and people, a team effort is the best approach to prepare your sustainability report. The draft report should also be reviewed by those outside the preparation process before issuance.
Once the report is released (as a webpage in your company’s website or a pdf), make the effort to promote it through the entity’s website, social media, annual reports, and marketing materials. Attempt to get feedback through the Internet from the stakeholders you had focused on to determine whether they read the message you wished to get across. Did significant numbers of people in other groups who were not your focus also read the report? If so, were they satisfied with the progress? Use this as a learning experience to improve the process and message put out in future reporting.
CCES has the technical personnel to prepare a successful sustainability or “green” program with concrete successes and can help you communicate your successes to your key stakeholders in a clear manner. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.