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Sustainability and Public Relations

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Presentation delivered at the PRISA National Conference in South Africa. Focusing on the link and implication of sustainability reporting and the public relations functions.

Presentation delivered at the PRISA National Conference in South Africa. Focusing on the link and implication of sustainability reporting and the public relations functions.

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    Sustainability and Public Relations Sustainability and Public Relations Presentation Transcript

    • The impact of sustainability and integrated reporting on Public Relations Lessons Learnt
      Reana Rossouw
      Next Generation Consultants
    • From Annual Report to Sustainability Report to an Integrated Report………..
    • “To make our economy sustainable we have to relearneverything we have learnt from the past.That means making more from less and ensuring that governance, strategy and sustainability are inseparable. Integrated Reporting builds on the practice of Financial Reporting, and Environmental, Social and Governance- or ESG/Sustainability – Reporting, and equips companies to strategically manage their operations, brand and reputation to stakeholders and be better prepared to manage any risk that may compromise the long-term sustainability of the business”Professor Mervyn King, Chairman of the GRI
    • An integrated report ….
      The core concepts revolve around an “inclusive” approachand “integrated” reporting to provide a holistic and forward looking picture of the reporting organisation to the multitude of stakeholders who are impacted by and who in turn impact the reporting organisation.
    • Key considerations:
      Integrated reporting….
      Is the evolution of sustainability reporting from a “nice to have” to a “need to have” basis
      Is communicating the business strategy and processes which exist or are to be implemented to manage both financial and sustainability issues
      Is a journey and progressively needs to cover the multiple needs of the different user types
      Requires the development of a framework to ensure all reporting requirements are being met.
      Source: KPMG – Integrated Reporting – Understanding the requirements - 2011
    • Reporting Progress
      Source: Next Generation Consultants – www.nextgeneration.co.za
    • What this means….
      This change requires not only new skills and competencies but also a new mind shift about fundamentally different communication strategies
      This new era of Corporate Reporting focuses on enabling stakeholders to make informed assessments as opposed to companies telling their (one-sided) story
      It requires integrated strategic communication strategies that considers, allows and encourages stakeholders to influence business strategy
    • New era of communications
      Principles of Reporting
      Materiality
      Inclusiveness
      Completeness
      Balance
      Comparability
      Accuracy
      Timeliness
      Clarity
      Reliability
      Transparency
      Accountability
    • Here, There, Everywhere
      Issues management is a traditional role and responsibility of the public relations function
      Issues management, broadly defined, is the practice of identifying potential problems and working to deflect or defuse them in order to minimize their impact on an organisation or business
      Sustainability deals with these material issues – in particular – how a company is or plans to deal with it.
      The sustainability and integrated report is the communication aspect – i.e. ‘telling the story’ to stakeholders.
      Until now PR focused on specific ‘stakeholder groups’ i.e. investors, shareholders, media, etc.
      So – what is the NEW story about stakeholders?
    • Providing the link
      Additional requirements of practitioners are – to take the lead in stakeholder engagement, to document the engagement process, (i.e. outcome and commitment to these issues raised by stakeholders), to contribute to the reporting process, and ensure the most material issues are managed – all of these provide an additional layer of complexity.
    • The era of stakeholder engagement
    • Stakeholder Groups by Relationship
    • Increasing sophistication in approaches to engagement
    • Case Studies
      Engagement and dialogue is more about listening
      Shell – Fracking in the Karoo
      Expect to take time to learn a new vocabulary – even if you are using the same words, they have a different meaning
      BHBP – Environmental/Emissions/Pollution vs. Health Issues
      Accept that there might not be agreement on all issues
      BP – Don’t expect to set the agenda
      Be aware of perceptions that may not align with internal thinking – some you may be able to change, whilst some you might have to learn to live with
      Mines – people have short and/or long memories – relocation, wages, hostels, asbestos, water, nationalisation
      You may need independent, external, specialist skills to facilitate the process
      Walmart – local knowledge, skill and cultural insight
      The rules of engagement need to be agreed
      Comment and commitment needs to filter through the organisation
      It takes time and resources and it raises expectations
      Stakeholders are not homogenous groups
      Getting the right stakeholders to the table is neither simple nor easy
      It requires reviewing internal priorities, processes and systems
    • Lessons Learnt (1)
      Unlearn PR & Embrace the Specific
      Be afraid – be very afraid – if you see phrases like
      “industry leading,” “best in class,” and “visionary”
      “We’ve been the most responsible (insert industry) company since (insert name of scion) /(launched this great company in) [insert date]. And this year we’ve done some fantastic things to improve our performance. Not that we’re suggesting that in previous years our performance needed improving, because we were already great … ”.
    • Lessons Learnt (2)
      Learn to say ‘’Sorry – we made a mistake”
      Practice starting sentences with “Unfortunately, …” and “We didn’t reach our goal this year because … ”.
      Use language along the lines of “Despite these accomplishments, we know we have a long way to go.”
    • Lessons Learnt (3)
      Is it real or aspirational?
      When you talk about future performance, be it a specific goal or (dangerously) an implied goal, be very clear about what’s aspirational and what’s a hard goal for which you’re willing to be held accountable.
      It doesn’t hurt to qualify this by laying out the potential factors that might make the goal difficult to achieve. Sweeping predictions may bite you where it hurts.
    • Lessons Learnt (4)
      It matters – all of it!
      You have an important job. More than any other document, your Sustainability / Integrated Report has the potential to earn at least the grudging respect of your critics.
      At the end of the day, sustainable business practices and transparent communications represent opportunity more than risk.
    • 19
      Thank YouQuestionsPlease note:This presentation is part of a larger body of research and knowledge.For more information:www.nextgeneration.co.za