ketchum presentsRio, Sustainability                and Where Next for       Communications                                ...
Ketchum is proud to have been part of the debate on sustainability way before the original Rio conference. Wetake sustaina...
the rise of the                                            such as FTSE4Good and the Johannesburg Social                  ...
too little,                                                such as BP, GE and Coca-Cola, means                            ...
most admired                                                  She continues, “There is a more apparent link between       ...
people and business to actually change what they are       a corporate reputation. Those succeeding at it takethinking and...
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Ketchum Pleon Sustainability and Communications


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Ketchum Pleon is one of the first agencys to join UN Global Compact and has been involved in various major sustainability conferences since the first conference in Rio 20 years ago. We guide and consult our clients - and we practice what we preach. This paper gives an overview on the discussion on sustainability 2012 and beyond.

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Ketchum Pleon Sustainability and Communications

  1. 1. ketchum presentsRio, Sustainability and Where Next for Communications By Meg Morgan, Sustainability Lead, Ketchum Pleon, LondonPAGE 1 | KETCHUM PRESENTS: RIO, SUSTAINABILITY AND WHERE NEXT FOR COMMUNICATIONS JUNE 2012
  2. 2. Ketchum is proud to have been part of the debate on sustainability way before the original Rio conference. Wetake sustainability seriously; we are part of the UN Global Compact and have been involved with various majorsustainability conferences over the years. Our sustainability experts across our global network come from avariety of backgrounds from NGOs and industry, to government and media, bringing with them a wealth ofexperience and sector knowledge to advise clients on communicating their sustainability programmes.This is our view on how companies have changed the way they communicate sustainability over the last20 years, how and where we think Rio+20 is going to have an impact and where we think sustainabilitycommunications is heading in the next 20 years.when it the corporate community is beginning to become more responsible for the impact it can have and theall began difference it can make. At the heart of making corporate sustainability aIt was only 20 years ago that as a planet we decided success is corporate communications – this servesthat something needed to be done if we were to the twin purposes of reaching stakeholders, and alsosustain future generations of humans, plants and helping to inform and drive change. It has been a longanimals. The United Nations (UN) inaugural Earth road and even after 20 years many would say we haveSummit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 bought together not come as far as they would like. But the big changeover 100 world leaders to discuss global sustainability. has been awareness of the issue. Most people haveThere was an air of excitement and anticipation that heard of climate change, most people know that wecountries were about to take sustainability seriously have more extreme weather patterns that are leadingand therefore take responsibility for what needed to extreme social conditions across the world. Worldto change. Agenda 21 and The United Nations news frequently reports on famines and floods. AndFramework Convention on Climate Change (which as awareness has grown, so has the expectation fromlater became the Kyoto Protocol) were among the the consumer that we need to do more, and by thatmost positive developments. they mean governments, companies and individuals. And so the sustainability industry was born – althoughTwenty years on and progress on policy is generally regarded by some nations as still in its infancy – andregarded as slow and disappointing. But as an with it comes a responsibility to engage, excite andissue, sustainability has found its common voice and involve people through communications.PAGE 2 | KETCHUM PRESENTS: RIO, SUSTAINABILITY AND WHERE NEXT FOR COMMUNICATIONS JUNE 2012
  3. 3. the rise of the such as FTSE4Good and the Johannesburg Social Responsiblility Index, highlight the importance ofsustainability responsible operational practices and the risk to an organisation that comes with it. “If Chief Finance Officers are going to take sustainability seriously thenagenda it needs to have a value attached to it. The C-suite want to know how much people are investing becauseAs with any industry (and sustainability is becoming an of it, how much the company is saving because of itindustry), its definition has changed over the years. As and how big the market opportunity is as a result ofwith most business models, “sustainability” (aka CSR) it. Tracking this is critical, so measurement is key, andhas evolved dramatically. John Paluszek, Ketchum investors like numbers so it’s really important to beSenior Counsel, who has been active in its evolution transparent about this” says Meg Morgan, Ketchum’ssince forming a ‘CSR’ counselling firm in the 70s, Sustainability Lead in London.offers this capsule summary: “Arguably, sustainabilityhas now entered the ‘3.0’ stage in which progressive But the investor community isn’t the only one drivingcompanies, aware of the great value of corporate sustainability up the board room agenda. Demandreputation, are creatively integrating the pursuit of comes from the increasingly savvy consumer as wellbusiness objectives with social advancement. A as reputation and competition. Paul Cohen, a Partnercurrent seminal example is the ongoing development in Ketchum’s New York office recalls how companiesof Integrated Reporting of all corporate commitments motivations have evolved to ensure sustainabilityat the interface of business in society (www.theiirc. is core to any resilience programme; “There hasorg). (“Stage 1.0” was largely corporate defensive been tremendous change and movement in someaction issue-by-issue; “2.0” added the formation of organisations – ExonMobil now has fairly slick TVtransnational business cooperatives such as the United adverts acknowledging the importance of climateNations Global Compact and the World Business change. Whatever their rationale for communicatingCouncil for Sustainable Development as well as the sustainability be it a defensive or progressive movepublication of “social reports”, etc.) The genius of there is no doubt that they have shed their ‘screw you’“Sustainability 3.0” leading into Rio+20 is that many attitude.”companies, often in cooperation with (or in advance of)governments and NGOs, are recognizing and pursuing Petra Sammer, Ketchum’s Chief Creative Officer andconcurrent business opportunities such as risk man- Partner has been advising clients on sustainabilityagement, cost reduction and market development, in issues for over 20 years, “Copenhagen was amaking commitments such as energy conservation.” wake-up call. It drove people to the point of realising what sustainability work needed to be done – itWith the rise of corporate responsibility came a demonstrated that sustainability is more than asocially responsible investment community and for trend, but at the same time it was apparent that tothe first time a financial value was placed on socially succeed it needed more authentic support than mostresponsible companies. The launch of indexes governments have provided to date.”PAGE 3 | KETCHUM PRESENTS: RIO, SUSTAINABILITY AND WHERE NEXT FOR COMMUNICATIONS JUNE 2012
  4. 4. too little, such as BP, GE and Coca-Cola, means that the tables have finally begun to turntoo late? since the original Rio conference. John Paluszek attends UN Compact onWhile Copenhagen was a wakeup call behalf of Ketchum and its clients anddemonstrating the disparity between government his insights on Rio are more positive,and NGO opinions on issues such as investment “There seems to be more of an urgencyand policy, it also showed just how big a job and priority within organisations to start‘sustainability’ is in a democratic system. getting sustainability right because people and investors are watching, and“The biggest surprise is how little progress has there is a real opportunity to get it right too becausebeen made since Rio,” says Paul Cohen, “The the technology is in place.”notion that we are still debating the reality of climatechange is fairly shocking. There seems to be a As reported in the UK’s national newspaper Thevery gradual understanding of how sustainably Guardian, ‘Eight new sustainable development goalscan improve a company’s reputation, operations (SDGs) will be proposed at Rio+20, but will notand even profitability. Look at FedEx – they have a replace the 10 millennium development goals (MDGs)huge fleet and so a sustainable solution will save set by the UN in 2000 which promised to free peoplethem millions. IBM is using their skills to develop from extreme poverty and multiple deprivations.’ But,‘Smarter Cities’ and unsurprisingly there is a benefit will these be regarded as a burden or an incentive byto everyone!” nations and commerce?Petra Sammer agrees, “We still appear to be Either way, the outcome of Rio+20 will not be legallyat the stage where organisations would attend binding environmental agreements as it was 20 yearsCopenhagen and think more about their own ago; instead nations will be asked to set their owncampaigning PR activities rather than the core targets and work voluntarily towards establishing aissues that were being discussed at the conference. global green economy. But what does this mean forBy tying into these wider issues, companies would communications?receive greater positive media coverage based on agenuine collaborative approach and reputation. But, John Paluszek, a frequent attendee at a spectrum ofthe change isn’t happening quickly enough. We sustainability conferences, offers a “Rio distinction”need a leap to a new mindset – maybe Rio is where worth considering: “We at Ketchum are counselingsome of these battles will be won?” clients to note that immediately prior to the Rio+20 Summit of national government leaders addressing climate change issues, The United Nations Globalwhat we can Compact is presenting its “Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum.” Having attended the Februaryexpect from Rio preparatory conference in New York I can attest that this Forum will be a highly concentrated –in June? and undoubtedly fruitful – affirmation of corporate progress and long-term commitment to sustainability. For example, subjects such as ‘cradle-to-cradle’As June and the Rio conference approaches the context for corporate and planetary sustainability willhype begins. Despite the slogan ‘The future we want’ be ex-amined in depth.”and an applaudable list of ‘critical issues’ to address,its quite clear from the global community that Paul Cohen supports this argument, “A company’sexpectations for Rio+20 are generally low. It’s already reputation is no longer based on what it is doingfacing cynics from the media, NGOs and even to sort out its own backyard, today there is angovernments: however, in 20 years there have been expectation for companies to use their skills, reachsignificant advances in technology and the shift of and services to work collaboratively across sectorsmindset within some of the larger global companies, and markets to sort out the global backyard”.PAGE 4 | KETCHUM PRESENTS: RIO, SUSTAINABILITY AND WHERE NEXT FOR COMMUNICATIONS JUNE 2012
  5. 5. most admired She continues, “There is a more apparent link between sustainability, competitiveness and profitability. Ourcompanies client BMW has always been good with ratings on indexes but now sustainability is a major talking point at motor shows and so companies need to make sureWe’re not starting from scratch. While there is a long that they have a sustainability strategy in place.way to go there are companies out there proving thatsustainability works – not just for business and society “Once the demand is there, it is the companies thatbut for a corporate reputation too. In an interview with are often one step ahead of governments – thereforeFortune Magazine in March 2012, Jeffrey Immelt, avoiding the regulation or improving reputation andCEO, General Electric, raised some interesting points bottom line, or a combination of all of these. Either wayrelating to the business and financial case for CSR the global trend is that sustainability it is now part of bigand sustainability, he says, “I think we’ve [GE] always company culture.”been a good and generous company when it’s cometo corporate social responsibility around education and “We know there is corporate success in sustainability”things like that. But personally, I think one of the things says Cohen, “Look at Japan’s approach to sustainablethat this [economic] cycle is proving is that without buildings – they recogonise the financial benefit tocompetitiveness, nothing else really matters. I think in creating a sustainable society. Japan really sets thethe end, GE is a competitive company, and in the end benchmark here. It’s the collaboration of sub nationalsthat might be the best source of CSR.” coming together – public / private companies across geographies are working quicker than governments toHe goes on, “I think if you can link corporate social get things done.responsibility to those things that companies do best,which is compete, when you can touch those two, “Corporate sustainability credentials are seen asthen I think they’re particularly strong. If you’re just different to building reputation through money to an art museum or something like that, Often we are dealing with C-suite and experts ratherI don’t think it helps as much. But if you can tie CSR to than the marketing and communications people. Thisinnovation for the environment, or making secondary helps. It builds credibility and trust when led from theschools better or big things like that, then I think it has leadership of the company.”extra oomph.” where to next forROI on sustainabilitysustainability? communications?While the sustainability debate is often seen as beingled by governments and influenced by NGOs, it could Communications is playingbe said that it is the private sector that has the money an increasingly critical roleand incentive to make the difference. in accelerating behaviour change. At the forefront ofBut the demand is coming from consumers who are this is leadership. Ketchum’slistening more to NGOs and other peers through the recently published Leadershipinternet. They are more aware of global issues as well Communication Monitoras those happening on their doorstep. “Sustainability revealed a simple formula thathas changed because companies now realise that it leadership credibility hinges onaffects consumers purchasing behaviour,” says Petra a blend of decisive action, open communication and aSammer. “To get a sustainability programme right, it’s leader’s personal presence. This is absolutely the casereally important that we understand the views of the for the success of sustainability.consumers in the first place.” Social media is speeding up awareness but gettingPAGE 5 | KETCHUM PRESENTS: RIO, SUSTAINABILITY AND WHERE NEXT FOR COMMUNICATIONS JUNE 2012
  6. 6. people and business to actually change what they are a corporate reputation. Those succeeding at it takethinking and doing is a much harder leap. It starts with on board the organisation’s core competencies andcompanies making this process easier by providing the match that with the real global to local, social andtools and infrastructure to do things differently. environmental needs that often result in making an organisation more efficient, innovative and credible.So how can communications support this? “A Those that do it really well don’t need to rely onsustainability programme needs to be robust and that overtly shouting about what they do, their customers,means working with NGOs, and collaboratively across competitors and communities do this on their behalf”.industries and governments to change the way welive and work. Any communication strategy needs to It’s a long road ahead but an exciting one that willconsider these stakeholders at the outset,” says John make a real difference. There is likely to be somePaluszek. “Companies realise that sustainability needs interesting comment and opinion coming out of be communicated in a holistic way to be effective. There will almost certainly be a buzz, but once JuneIt’s always more than just stand-alone environment passes it will be the experts in sustainability andor social issues. Getting our clients to look at the communications that will drive change.big picture will be central to developing a successful so what willcampaign.”Our top tips for clients:• It is more important to understand the habits, touch points and influencers of tomorrow’s consumer – success look like? they are likely to be demanding more than today’s Paluszek is very clear with his response, “When consumers. people stop talking about sustainability as something• Sustainability is moving from providing shareholder that is new and important then it becomes a vital part value to providing value to all your stakeholders. of everything”. Those doing this are more likely to be successful in building trust and reputation. Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Patagonia puts• Brands have the opportunity to connect and educate sustainability into perspective when he said, “Without consumers on sustainable issues. Rather than a healthy planet there are no shareholders, customers ‘dumbing down on sustainable messages’ brands or employees.” Companies should bear this in mind should ‘inspire new thinking and behaviour change’. when considering the importance of sustainability to its operations.Dave Chapman, Ketchum’s Global Sustainability Leadadds, “Sustainability is becoming increasingly core toMeg MorganSustainability Lead, (0)20 7611 3500PAGE 6 | KETCHUM PRESENTS: RIO, SUSTAINABILITY AND WHERE NEXT FOR COMMUNICATIONS JUNE 2012