Authenticity Begins in the Office
The same holds true for our organization. We promote ourselves as green, so we must be authentic in our actions. Internally at Green Jays Communications, we have a low carbon footprint. We work from home offices (no commute); we print double-sided; we recycle all paper, glass and plastics; we use compact fluorescent light bulbs and we volunteer to teach “Reduce Your Carbon Footprint” workshops in our community. We use the knowledge we gain from these experiences to strategically guide and educate our clients in their journey to becoming more green.
Committing to greener operations is worth the effort on a number of levels:
Financial Cost Savings
Committing to green operations can save your organization money by reducing your expenses. Making adjustments to your office lighting, building temperature, corporate travel and fleet fuel are just a few of the many ways your organization can realize cost savings and reduce your impact on the environment at the same time. In addition, you may be able to take advantage of state or federal tax deductions as well as renewable energy tax credits and incentives.
Enhanced Business Relationships
Hundreds of large global companies have signed on to the Carbon Disclosure Project. These companies factor in the eco-behavior of their suppliers as they figure their own corporate carbon footprint. They realize their products can’t be green unless all the links along their supply chain are green, too.
Many of these large global companies inform investors of their carbon footprint. Others require suppliers to submit their greenhouse gas emissions data, including relevant information about the products they buy from them. Some companies select suppliers, service providers and contractors based on their sustainability practices in addition to their financial, technical or capacity capabilities. Contract terms can stipulate that commitments with existing suppliers can be canceled if the suppliers do not meet certain greenhouse gas emissions standards.
External Marketing and Public Relations
When companies make the commitment to go green—and make authentic changes internally to support their commitment—it is natural to follow with a strategic external public relations plan. This plan can include press releases announcing your organization’s green commitment, story pitches with concrete examples of green activities your company is doing, sponsorship of local green events, speaking engagements on green topics and membership and participation in green organizations.
Tread cautiously with your marketing messages. Green marketing is different from traditional marketing. Marketing in the green arena is still new: Audiences can be passionately supportive, completely uninformed, overtly skeptical or decidedly negative. Be aware of greenwashing—defined by Wikipedia as the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service—but don’t let fears of being accused of it stop you from talking truthfully about what your organization is doing.
The biggest bang for your marketing buck will come from your local actions. The concepts of global warming and climate change are overwhelming to most people, but cutting emissions from your plant on the outskirts of town or sponsoring an Earth Day celebration in a local park are activities everyone in your community can relate to personally.
Going green helps position your company as a leader in your industry and your community, differentiates you from your competitors and appeals to savvy consumers (retail and corporate) who demand green products and services. It’s good public relations to be green. It shows your organization cares about safety, the environment and your community.
Employee Recruitment and Retention
Being green makes you an employer of choice in the minds of many, and those employees who are in sync with your business philosophy are likely to be more engaged in their work. Employees of green organizations are apt to receive positive reinforcement from customers, suppliers, friends and family when they talk about your efforts to go green. Your company may also realize a competitive business advantage, allowing it to continue to prosper so you can give pay increases and expand benefits.
Defining and communicating your green philosophy and activities are the most effective ways to lead by example. An organization must be green on the inside before it can market itself as green on the outside.
This article was written by Julie Herrick Williams, co-owner of Green Jays Communications. It was excerpted from the PR News Going Green: Case Studies in Outstanding Green Business Practices, Volume 1. To order a copy, visit the http://www.prnewsonline.com/store/.
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