Going Green? Make Sure it’s Part of your Public Relations Plan
More and more businesses in the building, design and construction world are embracing sustainability, resilience, carbon reduction and transparency as the movement to fight the effects of climate change continues to grow.
It’s an important part of the business plan for many companies; it should also be an essential element of their PR plan as well.
Efforts to reduce carbon and other GHG emissions, processes to reduce waste, healthy workplace initiatives, third-party certifications like GREENGUARD Gold and Red List Free all provide a tremendous benefit as more consumers and companies put a premium on working with businesses that are committed to working for a healthier future.
According to a Nielson report, The Evolution of the Sustainability Mindset, before 2013 only 20 percent of S&P 500 companies disclosed their environmental, social and governance information; by 2018, that number jumped to 85 percent.
Another Nielson study found that one of the top four attributes that consumers were willing to pay for is “environmentally friendly,” with 33 percent of respondents saying that meant enough to them to pay more for a product.
In the BD+C industry, many companies have incorporated sustainability into their business models, either by choice or necessity, as the demand for LEED-certification continues to increase. According to the World Green Building and Construction Trends 2018 report from Dodge Data & Analytics, nearly half of the architects, engineers, contractors, owners and consultants surveyed say the majority of their projects over the next three years will be green buildings.
BD+C companies need to make sure they are highlighting their efforts, whether it’s in a B2B or B2C capacity.
For B2B, that might be a product reformulation that eliminates the use of a hazardous chemical, a new process that results in less waste, or a corporate shift toward using more renewable energy. Industry giants like Turner Construction, Wilmott Dixon and McCarthy are committed to initiatives like net-zero energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Some companies are shifting their focus to aggressively reduce their Scope 3 carbon emissions, which takes into account the entire supply chain, so it’s essential for even small suppliers to highlight their own efforts.
Here are some ways that BD+C companies can highlight their efforts through public relations:
- Tell your story: Take a step back and assess what your company is doing when it comes to sustainability. It could be something small, like a company-wide effort to cut down on energy use by turning off lights, switching to programmable thermostats, using energy-efficiency lightbulbs, daylighting, etc. It could be a significant shift to renewable energy – solar, wind or biomass – or a new product that helps earn LEED points. Whatever the effort is, try and quantify it; the story is easier to tell if you have numbers or an equivalency; for example, how many homes you could power over a year with that amount of energy saved. Share your efforts and success stories with your customers, partners and the media by putting out a press release or highlighting on the company blog.
- Apply for awards and certifications: Third-party validation goes a long way; look for award opportunities for sustainability efforts. There are a lot of them out there, from a building product to an entire building project. There are also opportunities for third-party validation through certifications like LEED, WELL, Energy Star, Living Building Challenge, BREEAM, GREENGUARD, Declare, etc.
- Share through social media: Utilizing social media channels is a strategic and effective way to communicate new updates and remind your social audience about your green efforts. This communication is not just for company channels; managers and staff should also share these company announcements on their personal pages to extend organic reach. Additionally, a paid strategy is an effective way to reach potential partners and clients, with LinkedIn being the best option for most BD+C companies. With the ability to hyper-target, an additional budget allocated to LinkedIn can be beneficial in placing your company’s message in front of key audiences to drive sales.
As sustainability, transparency and green building efforts continue to grow, both consumers and companies will be looking for like-minded partners. BD+C companies need to make sure they are effectively communicating their efforts to capitalize on valuable relationships both on the B2B and B2C levels.