With the proliferation of companies going green, controlling your green brand is becoming increasingly important. Unless your sustainability efforts are properly managed, going green can actually do your business more harm than good.
Take the Dutch energy company Essent, for example. In a post last week, Gail Whiteman pointed out that Essent, owned by the German multinational RWE, launched a PR campaign during COP15 where they had 100 Dutch students ride green electric scooters to Copenhagen, engaging in educational activities along the way.
As Whitman states, “Essent positioned itself as a big supporter of youth civil society who were driving to make their opinions on climate change heard in Copenhagen.”
Sounds like a great PR campaign, right?
But a closer look shows a different picture. Essent’s parent company, RWE, “is a longtime target of Greenpeace for their clean coal and nuclear programs and NGO activists actually met the scooters with a lump of coal for each of the drivers at the German boarder.”
In addition, when The Road to Copenhagen went on Twitter and asked for buyers for the scooters, it turned out that Essent didn’t actually have any ongoing plans for the scooters — revealing the campaign as a superficial PR stunt.
To avoid a similar green PR nightmare, here are our steps to managing your green credibility.
6 Steps to Managing Your Green Credibility
1. Get Company Buy In
To be successful as a green company, all of your employees should be on board – buying in to your green program and actively participating in it. Tell employees what the company’s vision and values are and ask them how they feel about them and if they have suggestions for improvement.
2. Go Deep
In terms of PR, your green commitment needs to be seen as a sincere long-term undertaking to helping the environment. Superficial green efforts are easily detected.
3. Create Processes
Without explicit processes, no one is responsible for the strategy. Write sustainability into your business plan with a step-by-step implementation plan.
4. Create Metrics
Just as you have metrics for your product or services, create metrics for sustainability. Measure progress and build green meaurements into your business plan.
5. Form Partnerships
Rather than just focusing on media opportunities, develop valuable partnerships with members of the sustainability community. Treat these organizations like an important customer account. Identify the NGOs in your field and develop relationships with them, clearly outlining how you can help them.
6. Commit to Green Crisis Management
Have a dedicated team to ready to handle crisises. Bad press is inevitable, it’s how you manage it that matters.
How to Build – or Damage – Your Green Cred