As a nation, we are more aware of the damage we are doing to our planet than ever before. It’s becoming increasingly clear to many that current patterns of consumption and pollution are no longer sustainable. Consumers in markets big and small are increasingly motivated to be more environmentally conscious, and are exercising their power and voice through the products they buy. Many are also shunning or even boycotting brands which aren’t demonstrating high ethical standards.
This year, reputation management has proven to be more crucial for companies than ever. This is why, as communicators, it’s vital that we join brands in this movement to hold ourselves and our clients to the highest ethical standards and align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With more and more brands taking a stand on polarising societal issues, we are putting tangible change into practice. From transparency to authenticity, we must always focus our PR efforts on managing reputation through demonstrating the right behaviours.
Pledge for the planet
World Environment Day was celebrated on June 5th and is the United Nations’ largest annual event to encourage awareness and action to protect our planet. Whilst good business practice typically means making profit, PR agencies need to be going one step further and balancing profit with purpose, alongside meeting rigorous social and environmental standards.
A great place to start is by making pledges to hold ourselves accountable. This could involve making the business more energy efficient by ensuring all lights are switched off when you leave the office, becoming plastic neutral or disclosing your high carbon clients. Furthermore, by promoting your business’ green activities, you will create more PR opportunities which will raise the profile of your business significantly. At Milk & Honey PR, once we started to actively promote how your business goals are aligning with our values and the UN’s SDG’s we’ve seen an influx of inbound inquiries of clients aligning with those same drives.
Using PR as a force of good
A lot of agencies are talking about the idea of ‘purpose’ at the moment. But how do they showcase that? Our team felt it was important for us to demonstrate what we are doing rather than just talking – we are actually acting on purpose. We manifest this through our working practices, how we recruit, our environmental performance and how we support local communities.
In August 2019, we were only the fifth marketing agency in the UK to become a certified B Corp business. This means we have been recognised for balancing purpose with profit, and meeting rigorous social and environmental standards. The PRCA B Corp Group was also set up at the end of 2019, and is focused on improving the PR industry for profit, planet, and people by helping agencies navigate, understand, and implement B Corp principles.
Going for gold (and green!)
The unprecedented change the world has been going through in the last few months can be used as the extra motivation to work even closer with our colleagues, clients, partners and suppliers to create more impactful work. As communication leaders, we must support each other and lead our clients to these high ethical standards held by the UN. A simple step is holding ourselves accountable through B Corp certification. Meeting these rigorous standards ensures our clients, the public and staff the PR agency is held to a purpose-driven mission and making strong impacts in society.
At Milk & Honey, we have a ‘people first’ ethos and are committed to creating an environment where people are valued, respected and empowered. We have since extended that ethos to People, Planet and Purpose, and taken the steps to create our own report, demonstrating those business goals that align with the UN SDGs.
We hope that by being transparent about our journey will help to open up the conversation and drive momentum towards an industry in which PR agencies are a force of good. That ethos will continue to serve our purpose, our people and our planet - including the environment and the communities around us.