SERVICES

MESSAGING SOLUTIONS

Telling Effective ESG & Sustainability Stories To Audiences That Matter

 

Service At-A-Glance

  • A five-phase approach to telling your sustainability story in powerful language.
  • Messaging that resonates with different stakeholders based on their interests.
  • Solutions to complex and often entrenched problems that hold back internal teams.
  • Alignment of internal teams and leaders so they all sing from the same songbook.
  • Appropriate application of key data-points to create energy, enthusiasm and a desire to keep the sustainability engine moving forward.

SERVICE OVERVIEW

COMMUNICATING WITH KEY AUDIENCES ABOUT THE GOOD WORK YOU’VE ALREADY DONE

This service is a consulting engagement designed to optimize ESG and sustainability messages for diverse stakeholder groups. Organizations that invest in these initiatives often do so for three reasons. First, they believe practicing environmental stewardship is the right thing to do. Second, they want to enhance and preserve their social license to operate. Third, they are required to do so to comply with regulations.

Organizations can engage in the perfect ESG and sustainability initiatives only to have it all be for naught if they don’t effectively communicate with all stakeholders. If your messaging is undigestible, dense and told solely from the ivory tower of the implementer, your audiences may wander off without ever truly understanding your story. Effective messaging to diverse stakeholders, each with their own heightened interests, is much harder to achieve than it might seem.

What makes it challenging? 

  • Translation of scientific and technical data. Sustainability initiatives often result in detailed technical and scientific reports. In many instances, different audiences may not understand the scientific jargon used. This makes it very important to have a translation exercise as part of the initiative. If your audience can’t understand the science, they probably won’t get the message.
  • Diverse stakeholder groups who only care about a portion of the story. From board members to executives to activist organizations to regulators – each audience type is exclusively focused on their individual interests. This means a traditional approach of uniform, broad-brush messaging probably won’t have as much impact as messages tailored to different audiences about topics that matter to them.
  • Developing compelling stories instead of dry reports. Most initiatives culminate in periodic program reports. These reports often fail to generate understanding, let alone enthusiasm and interest. Rote reporting nets rote results from stakeholders and leaves leaders empty-handed about how to do better.
  • Maintaining consistency across all points of exposure to the brand. A wide array of people might want to tell your sustainability story to achieve their goals, from board members to executives to sustainability staff to PR people to everyday employees. But will those messages be consistent from one person, one speech, one conversation, one website or presentation to the next? If not, the credibility of your sustainability story could be called into question.
  • Proliferation of messaging channels. Messaging channels have grown exponentially over the last several years and it can be very challenging to know which channels to pick and how much to invest in each one. Traditional advertising, PR, social media networks, videos, websites, speeches and presentations, conferences and the like could all benefit your messaging strategy. But which ones make the most sense?

Our Messaging Solutions service addresses all these challenges with a five-phase approach: audience and stakeholder analysis, data interpretation, messaging development, channel selection and campaign execution. The net result for our clients is a vastly improved set of messaging campaigns that demonstrate stewardship, enhance their social license to operate and satisfy regulators.

 

Why Is This Service Necessary?

This service is about protecting the investments you are making in ESG and sustainability initiatives. At its heart, sustainability is about change. So it’s only natural to expect that an organization’s approach to communicating about sustainability must also change. Yet, in our experience, most organizations won’t make the change to more effective and nuanced messaging strategies unless an outside organization shows them how to do it. This service fixes that problem.

WHY YOU NEED THIS SERVICE

IF YOU DON’T COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY, YOUR ESG AND SUSTAINABILITY INITIATIVES MAY NOT DELIVER THE RESULTS YOU HOPE TO SEE

Who Needs This Service?

Fortune 500 enterprises, mid-sized companies and public agencies that invest in ESG and sustainability initiatives need this service. The common needs that our clients share include:

  • Targeted communications to a variety of stakeholder groups to describe these excellent programs and projects in development or recently implemented.
  • Guidance to communicate across internal divisions to create enterprise alignment and efficiencies.
  • Meaningful, digestible, effective stories for public, investor, regulator, and leadership buy-in.
  • Access to real time data and interpretation for appropriate decision-making on multiple scales.

OUR APPROACH

INTERPRETING ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE OUTCOMES TO TELL INTERESTING AND ENGAGING STORIES

Most clients engage us for this service as their technical work is approaching completion, including data collection and early internal documentation. However, it’s important to note that several of our clients engage simultaneously in multiple sustainability initiatives that may have overlapping phases. This means the need for year-round messaging services, as initiatives culminate, could make the most sense. Our approach to developing effective sustainability messaging campaigns includes these five phases:

Phase One—Audience and Stakeholder Analysis

Our engagement begins by identifying the different audiences who need to know about your sustainability initiatives. We create a picture of these different audience types, their motives and what we know about each of them. The result is a summary document that profiles each audience and their interests to inform next steps.

This phase is a lighter version of Creekbank’s full-scale, holistic audience analysis that’s targeted to meet the messaging needs of discrete sustainability initiatives. If a holistic audience analysis across the entire organization is desired, we recommend our Communications Coaching service where we advise at a much deeper level for understanding stakeholders and their motives.

Phase Two —Scientific Information Interpretation

This phase of the engagement is about examining the outcomes of the initiative, what was learned and what new questions arise. This phase is inclusive of both quantitative and qualitative data and scientific information. This forms the basis for subsequent phases of message development, channel selection and campaign execution.

Most initiatives interrelate with direct and indirect social concerns that are associated with the technical performance data and how it is perceived. In reviewing these outputs, our team evaluates the complexity of the information and datasets compared to what we believe each audience can reasonably understand.

At Creekbank Associates, we believe good projects are those with rigorous science and reliable data. Projects lacking scientific rigor should be called to the mat, regardless of how cool the story is or how vigorously it is distributed. Why?

If an audience deems your initiative to have weak or indefensible data, this does far more than just cripple a single initiative. It destroys organizational credibility at a much faster pace than it can be restored. To help prevent this, during this phase Creekbank Associates:

  • Analyzes the scientific findings of your project to identify potential flaws and risks in the data accumulation. We will be forthright about the risks we see in this area.
  • Evaluates this information as both scientist and communicator simultaneously. We will tell you how we believe each audience will receive the data and make projections of how credible we believe they’ll find it to be.

This analysis allows us to identify the key data points to build messages around for multiple stakeholders. This sequenced review improves future data rigor and performance outcomes, as well as informs the team in sharing present outcomes with stakeholders.

Phase Three – Message Development

In this phase, we define how to tell your story in language that resonates with different audiences. This might include board members, executives, regulators, industry analysts, activists tracking your enterprise and even employees.

Our goal is to make each message as succinct, direct and high-impact as possible. This is where you can see the best possible return on your ESG and sustainability initiatives. Overly complex, unclear, and hard to digest periodic reports that get mentioned a time or two then land on the website is a clear miss. We will help you do much better.

Another goal is to find the language and key data points that stimulate excitement, enthusiasm and a renewed commitment to future sustainability initiatives. We know that most organizations will need numerous ongoing initiatives if they are to have any meaningful impact on the sustainability of their enterprise. Telling high-impact stories creates energy and good-will to keep going.

Phase Four — Channel Selection

In this phase, we help you select best-fit channels based on each audience. We typically recommend a palette of appropriate channels based on our audience analysis from Phase One. Priority one is to select channel options that each audience already engages in.

In our experience, we find that internal science and communications team frequently struggle at this intersection. It’s common for each party to attempt to fill the other party’s role. But neither have the other’s respective expertise. This is where our integrated team of experts identifies a clear path forward.

Channels to convey stories are customized to audience and information type. They can include:

  • Written and scripted messages (press releases, memos, presentation scripts)
  • Presentation materials and master slide-decks for multiple messaging needs
  • Visual materials (flyers, slides, posters)
  • Videography content (real and virtual)
  • Storymaps (websites with interactive maps)
  • Dashboards and platforms with real-time, interactive data for internal and external audiences

Phase Five – Campaign Execution

In this phase, we help you execute your messaging plan. Creekbank Associates has a wide range of capabilities when it comes to creating and executing messaging campaigns. We know that most of our clients already have, internally or through existing partnerships, a set of professionals who can do similar work.

To give you the greatest return on your investment, we prefer to partner with your existing resources and teams to figure out how we can best contribute and what specific deliverables we can provide in this final messaging phase. Once we’ve clarified who will do what, we can be engaged through a programmatic approach with commitments and fees determined in advance.

WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT

DESCRIBING YOUR GOOD WORKS IN WAYS THAT AUDIENCES UNDERSTAND ENHANCES YOUR SOCIAL LICENSE TO OPERATE

No organization should leave their sustainability message to chance. When people know a little, but not enough, of a story, they will invent the rest. This service bridges that gap, providing a clear, unified voice to internal and external stakeholders. The results are enhanced understanding, buy-in, and sharing wherever engagement is desired or required.

With Creekbank Associates’ Messaging Solutions, our clients enjoy:

  • Increased internal alignment that results in the organization’s board, senior executives, leadership, science teams and other divisions working in tandem.
  • Better and more informed decisions on all levels, from public opinion to the executive boardroom.
  • Decision makers that are confident to present novel ideas and new opportunities outside of their areas of direct expertise.
  • Customized, consistent messaging to varying audiences that saves hundreds of staff and executive hours over the course of a year.
  • Stakeholders that are more informed on your direction and progress.
  • Mission fulfillment via a more informed public acting in accordance with scientific understanding, generating public approval.
  • A demonstration of the efficacy and value of the work done with public and private funding and for public good.
  • Enhanced social license to operate that provides benefit through the regulatory process, increased investment or community approval.

How To Get Started

We work collaboratively with our client liaison, their team and decision-makers to deliver customized solutions in a perfect blend of formal structure and flexible application.

Our approach for engaging with each client begins with a no-obligation initial consultation and a needs assessment. Based on each client’s situation and the unique nature of this work, one or more framing sessions take place to ensure clarity before formalizing an engagement.

To get started on this process, please fill out the form below.

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