Thought Leadership

With Consumers Prioritizing Sustainability, Highlight Your Corporate Environmental Efforts When and Where it Matters Most

April 28, 2022
Franco Ripple

As they become increasingly aware of humanity’s impact on our climate, consumers are looking to make more sustainable choices – and they’re expecting the companies they buy from to act on sustainability as well.

A majority of Americans agree that companies should take action to counter the effects of climate change, according to a Yale University survey. And a recent Harris Poll found that U.S. consumers expect faster progress on corporate sustainability, with roughly 70 percent of consumers believing most industries could do more.

Meanwhile, a recent YouGov survey found that 81 percent of consumers expect companies to be environmentally conscious in their advertising and communications. This puts a significant business imperative on companies to not only make climate action a centerpiece of ESG (environmental, social, and governance) and CSR (corporate social responsibility) strategies, but to ensure customers and stakeholders are aware of these efforts.

When, Where, and How to Talk Sustainability

Many organizations choose to highlight their environmental bona fides during Earth Month, celebrated throughout April, and on Earth Day, recognized worldwide on April 22. Yet consumers already expect companies to unveil sustainability messaging during this time – especially large corporations capable of making the biggest environmental investments.

Instead, smart companies should consider making their environmental messaging evergreen throughout the year, focused on impacts made in key local markets, relatable to diverse demographics, tailored for local communities, and backed by data and intelligence.

With that in mind, here are a few ways in which some of the world’s most admired companies have made their climate commitments known in local media markets year-round:

Ford Motor Company: In January, Ford launched a creative environmental initiative by partnering with local farmers in Sonoma County, California. To reduce emissions, the farmers will use a fleet of electric F-150 Lightning Pro pickup trucks and E-Transit cargo vans, as well as charging stations and fleet management software. As noted by local media, Ford’s investment will benefit a region plagued by climate change-fueled wildfires and will help farmers reduce fuel consumption, while promoting the company’s fast-growing Ford Pro commercial division.

Kroger: The nation’s largest supermarket chain’s Zero Hunger Zero Waste initiative aims to boost sustainability by reducing food waste in partnership with community organizations. Kroger engaged with the mayors of Atlanta and Nashville to locally promote the initiative. According to local media in West Jordan, Utah; Fairfield, Ohio; and Oxford, Mississippi, the company’s stores donate unsold fresh produce and other items to local Feeding America food banks, which distribute the food to families –instead of ending up in methane-producing landfills alongside 40 percent of America’s food.

The Walt Disney Company: Home of “The Happiest Place on Earth,” the multinational entertainment and theme park company also works to sustain the planet for future generations through the Disney Conservation Fund. As reported in local media, Disney has awarded conservation grants to local zoos in Naples, Florida; Topeka, Kansas; and Santa Barbara, California as well as the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program and the New York Sea Grant. Since 1995, the company has provided $120 million in funding environmental projects, driving local awareness of their status as a global sustainability leader.

Break Through with Local Communications & Engagement

With consumer sentiment linked to brands that demonstrate commitment to sustainability, it’s essential to make sure your company’s own sustainability communications break through the noise.

Direct Impact is the only grassroots agency purposely built for delivering data driven, community focused results through the nation’s largest network of local teams. With our unique hyperlocal capabilities and world-class agency integration, we offer scalable, high-impact communications services covering every community, media market, political district, and digital landscape across the country.

As experts in developing comprehensive, integrated messaging campaigns, Direct Impact can help tell your environmental story through:

- Generating positive earned media in key markets tailored to diverse local communities

- Digital and social media backed by localization, combining local intelligence with cutting-edge digital tools to deliver targeted digital strategies

- Grassroots engagement to recruit and activate trusted local stakeholders as your brand’s champions, from environmental advocates to community organizations to local influencers

This approach will help your environmental efforts resonate with the right audiences, in the right places, at the right time – instead of simply joining the chorus during Earth Month. By ensuring your message reaches local markets and local stakeholders, you can better position your organization among the global companies using sustainability as a market differentiator – when and where it matters most.

Disclaimer: Ford Motor Company is a Direct Impact client.

Franco Ripple is a Vice President at Direct Impact, the nation’s leading grassroots firm. At the firm, he leverages nearly two decades of public and private sector experience in advocacy communications and stakeholder and coalition engagement to achieve client objectives. Franco has advised senior leaders at corporations and trade associations on strategic communications and public engagement, including Fortune 500 companies in the energy, healthcare, agriculture, and technology sectors.

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