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Archive for the ‘Sustainability’ Category

Help Required For A New Home

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Which wayHave you ever felt strangely at home somewhere you’ve never been to before? It happens to me whenever I visit the US for some reason. I can never explain it, it just does. I suppose I should have expected a similar feeling coming when I agreed to embark on my latest journey, with almost old friends.

As of October 1st I’ve been the new Director of CSRwire for 3BL Media. I’m guessing you’ve probably heard of at least one of those two companies if you’re reading this blog and travel any distance across the online responsible business universe.

A handful of the Founders of 3BL Media had worked for CSRwire before leaving a few years ago to set up 3BL Media with their own vision for the then only emerging social media explosion. Two companies with a similar ancestry borne out of the outdated broadcast press release industry headed off in parallel paths.

I’ve been close to 3BL for a long time with my own path crossing theirs very early on as an upcoming consultancy trying to eek out a reputation with a meagre budget, much to share and dabbling with the new toy called Twitter. There’s even a couple of videos of me to be found as one of the 3BL TV videobloggers along side Christine Arena, Fabian Pattberg, Chris Jarvis and Elaine Cohen – time for a reunion guys (don’t forget those lovely party glasses Elaine)!

Both 3BL’s and my own paths have run in parallel, and occasionally crossed for a project or two along the way.

I always wanted to engage more with CSRwire than I ever did. It was always a go to place for news and original content. I’m just one of those loyal types that had friendships and allegiances with 3BL and felt uncomfortable supporting the opposition, but I could never stay completely away because they were producing great pieces with great leaders.

Anyway, enough of the trip down memory lane and me  sharing my childlike enthusiasm about a new role. I am after something. That most valuable of somethings. Your time. Not much, but a very precious couple of minutes to me.

We’re at the start of the process of integrating CSRwire into the bigger 3BL Media group and we wanted to explore this window of opportunity to engage with as many within our communities as possible to help us build a plan to accelerate into 2015.

I would appreciate more than you could imagine, just 5 minutes of your valuable time to let us know via this SurveyMonkey link what you thought was strong about CSRwire and how we build on those strengths. If you’ve never heard of CSRwire before, that’s fine, you have now, and your input would be just a valuable but you might want a quick tour of the website or @CSRwire Twitter feed first.

I’m also jumping on a plane to the US soon to catch up with the team at 3BL HQ and then onto the BSR Conference (#BSR14) in New York next Tuesday to Thursday (4 – 6 Nov). It’s my first public event in the new role and I’d love to catch up with any readers (or anybody you think I should meet) that are around the event or the city next week! Give me a shout if you fancy grabbing a coffee (I’ll be relying on caffeine by then)!

CSRwire will also be announcing a big focus on all things Sustainable Finance (#SRI, #ESG, #ImpInv) during November for anybody interested in those themes. You’ll be able to submit your own articles or media for consideration. I’ll update this page with the link when it arrives.

More news from the new fun will follow…

 

Is Social Good Overtaking Cats?

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Climate Summit_HubFor the first time in quite a while I’ve noticed a distinct lack of cute / comedy cat posts (albeit somewhat distorted by buckets of ice water) and a stronger impression of more purpose based flashes in the social media world.

My gut, if backed up by more than a little professional insight into the data, feeling is that we may at long last be turning a social good communications corner. The activist world had too long preached at its audience to save the whale / panda / water / energy / planet to only see early plateauing of resulting engagement. Those who get it, got it pretty quick, but the wider mainstream world nodded, smiled and apathetically carried on regardless.

One latest indicator of the turning tide is the latest collaboration between Upworthy, Unilever’s Project Sunlight and the United Nations Climate Summit. In a space where such apathy has held fast, with nearly 10 million engagements – and yes, the ‘so what’ will need to be assessed – the reach is impressive. The campaign aims to ‘raise awareness and inspire action that prompts global leaders to adopt a more ambitious and urgent approach to addressing climate change’ is laudable indeed and I for one will be keeping a close eye on the story as it unfolds.

“With more than 100 heads of state and government joining leaders from business and civil society at the UN Climate Summit, we want to help them understand how much support there is for ambitious leadership and action on climate change,” said Dan Thomas, head of communications for the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team. “Through partnerships with innovative and mission-driven companies like Upworthy, we are constantly seeking to engage new audiences in our mission.” – And about time too.

I appreciate the ethos behind Upworthy, even if I’m not 100% convinced with their format’s efficacy over time, but if very little else it demonstrates both the reception of, and the need for better storytelling, boldness and yes, even playing those mainstream marketing emotional tricks to more diversely convey social good messages.

From the latest press release – The Upworthy community is one of the most engaged on the Web. The average Upworthy post generates 35,000 social actions (shares, likes, comments), which is 39 times more than an average post from the Web’s top 25 publishers. One third of Upworthy’s audience is now outside the U.S., in countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, and South Africa.

With such important challenges edging ever nearer we need those who know to maybe ask more for forgiveness rather than permission in getting their knowledge to the masses.

I’d also like to say a thank you to whomever made the bolder decisions (especially on budget) than usual to explore this collaboration. My optimism is mildly rejuvenated.

Check out this link to find out what all the fuss is about. It’s a no cat zone I promise.

PS – No real cats were harmed during the creation of this blog post, but countless links, images and videos were ignored or deleted.

 

Natural Born Social Good Evangelist

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Moderating at Lundquist CSR Online Awards, Milan 2014.

 

It’s time to stop over-thinking and speed up the doing, and change is in the air.

Nine years after escaping the carnival that is the business of sport, with many, many commercial lessons learned, and a tough personal 12 months, the moment I hit the ‘Publish’ button a new era begins.

No huge upfront fanfare at this point, merely a few noticeable differences to the way things will be done around these and associated online and offline parts.

The short version is that the original experiment that was Coethica both excellently failed and stealthily succeeded. I did begin the introspection behind the evolution two years ago and the headline (underlined in bold) awakening was that I was an explorer, communicator, evangelist and educator that hardly ever got to play to my personal strengths.

Not great for business. Not good for me. Not any more.

The experiment with social media worked way beyond my wildest dreams creating multiple exciting, and often distracting new tangents, which ironically should have been a bigger part of the direction from the beginning.

So now with a personal account overflowing with social capital from 17 years of a wildly varied social good career that includes over 6 years of social media curation, content creation, network building and engagement, it’s time to spread my wings further, aim higher and fly faster.

I’ll be able to share the new clients and projects soon but I should mention I’d love to have one or two more technology companies in the new communications based portfolio.

Business needs to step up its game and here’s a few examples of what you see me doing differently.

  • As a brand ambassador / evangelist
  • Speaking and moderating at events
  • Supporting world-changing non/low-profits

… all with a stronger focus on leadership, education and innovation.

Over the coming weeks and months I’ll be more formally announcing the new services, and new clients, and I’d really appreciate your support by adding your knowledge to any best practice and thought leadership I find and share on my increasing travels through all things social good (including CSR, sustainability, social enterprise, non-profits etc).

To find out how I can help your organisation or for speaking engagements send me a direct email via david.connor@coethica.com or get in touch via Twitter at @davidcoethica.

 

 

 

How To Create A Sustainable Brand In 90 Minutes

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Campher_LR

 

Book Review: Latest in the DoShorts series -

‘Creating a Sustainable Brand’ by Henk Campher

 

Simplicity is beautiful. In a world saturated by gurus (I even shivered typing that word) and wanna-be experts lining up with their jargon bazookas in strained attempts to prove Einstein’s alleged quote wrong…

If you can’t explain it simply you don’t know it well enough.

..well they do have to justify fees, real wisdom is usually drowned out in the melee.

 

One such source of accessible knowledge is the DoShorts range of books. In particular, keep your eyes open for the latest guide on the block, ‘Creating a Sustainable Brand’ by Henk Campher. Henk has one of my favourite, if a tad long, corporate titles as Edelman’s Senior Vice President, Business + Social Purpose & Managing Director, Sustainability – and breathe. Trust me, this guy knows his sustainable branding eggs.

 

The book’s subtitle is ‘A guide to growing the sustainability topline’ and pretty much nails what you will get from your 90 minute injection of practical expertise. The three core branding based themes cover all you really need to know about managing ‘the fusion of branding and product’ to improve profit in a world of accelerating sustainability change. In a confusing space of greenwash, good product / bad company, bad company / good product, ethical labels, evolving legal structures and corporate rankings make it impossible to directly compare two organisations.

 

This guide provides a strong, concise and robustly educational foundation for anybody new to sustainability, and also as a timely reminder and ammunition for those professionals at the day-to-day coal face. For example, Part 3 of the guide explores ‘The Anatomy of Sustainable Brand’ and offers the following summary

A sustainable brand cannot exist if the product itself does not have any sustainability characteristics. Similarly, a sustainable product needs to differentiate in the marketplace through branding that resonates with the consumer. This is at the heart of a sustainable brand – combining the sustainability of the product and the brand to create a unique sustainable brand value proposition and identity.

 

The guide doesn’t hide away from calling out the obvious elephants in the sustainability room, and Henk’s opinion and expertise is bold and incisive, whilst being fair. How can BP be greener than Greenpeace? Really? In what intelligent and authentically transparent world does that make any sort of sense? If I were to have one criticism it would centre around the guide’s segregation of brand and product that feels at times that it hopefully assumes operational processes into its wider definition brand, which of course it should, but how many brands are that deeply entrenched and understood across all business functions and employees?

Perfection is not part of the sustainability agenda – or else we wouldn’t need constant improvement. It provides us with a scale to assess whether sustainability association in the brand is completely absent or whether it is embedded – from ignored to designed.

 

Overall, this is the most comprehensive, informative and well written guide to sustainable brands I’ve seen yet. Henk’s huge experience on just about every side of the concerned fence from non-profit to corporate and developed to developing nations, all align perfectly with a genuinely insightful, entertaining and endearing style.

 

Get your copy of  ‘Creating  Sustainable Brand’ with a special 15% discount head over to www.dosustainability.com and enter campher15 in the voucher code box.

If you prefer shopping at Amazon click here to go straight to the guide.

 

Come back when you’ve read the guide and let the other readers know what your opinion was.

 

HenkC LIFor more about Henk Campher say hi on Twitter via @AngryAfrican or through his LinkedIn profile here.

 

 

 

 

For disclosure: I have never been paid by either Henk or Edelman, sadly, but Henk and I are both strong Liverpool Football Club fans and quite possibly marginally intoxicated by the dream like potential of our team winning the English Premier League, and in glorious fashion. I have tried to remain totally objective but hey, this kinda stuff doesn’t usually happen in the real world, so please consider this when making your own opinions.

Social Innovation + CSR = #3BLchat

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Susan McPherson #3BLchatA quick date for your diaries, and a new hashtag to watch out for…

Next Tuesday, 17 December, I will be hosting the first ever #3BLchat for 3BL Media.

This 60 minute Twitter chat will see guest expert Susan McPherson explore “Social Innovation and CSR: The New Frontier”, sharing her wide experience and providing real world examples to inspire change and collaboration.

For more information about the event and our guest click here.

3BL logo #3BLchatIt would be great to see some friends Twitter profiles taking part during the event and if you can help spread the word to your networks here’s a suggested ready-made Tweet for you:

Check out: “Social Innovation & #CSR” – Tues 17 Dec, 1pm ET - http://3bl.me/9gxpzt with @3BLMedia & @susanmcp1 #3BLchat

Let me know if you have any particular questions you’d like to ask Susan and I’ll make sure we get them into the tight schedule!

I’ll be hosting the session via @3BLMedia for the event and I’ll remind people that I’ll be switching from my personal profile (@davidcoethica) just beforehand.

See you on Tuesday.

More posts to come soon…

Shared Value: Business Opportunity

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Michael Porter knows his stuff. He’s a professor at Harvard and widely respected author on strategic thinking in business, especially of multiple books with ‘Competitive’ in the title.  More importantly though is his attention to the less traditional side of competitive business, my side, the good side.

The capitalist system is under siege.

One ongoing focus of this attention has been his interrogation of the world of CSR. A couple of years ago he, along with Mark Kramer, unleashed Creating Shared Value (CSV) into the wild, yet another consultant friendly Three Letter Acronym. For me, CSV is more of a refreshing of what CSR was always about, when in reality it had become a grossly misused term which was actively exploited by too many in the corporate world. My position is born out of own starting point in this particular space 15 years ago when I stumbled across the term CSR via an informal definition of ‘better balancing social, environmental and financial impacts whilst maximising profit’.

CSV / Shared Value helps move the debate forward, but in essence it is more of a refinement and re-branding exercise that also helps support consultancy work, rather than any step change in responsible business frameworks. The one important element for me that Shared Value re-energises is an entrepreneurial opportunity focused emphasis that is regularly overlooked in a risk management dominated agenda.

Why Business Can Be Good At Solving Social Problems is Michael’s latest TED Talk

Is Communication The Biggest Barrier?

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220px-Lost_in_Translation_poster

The two most used questions by smaller businesses whenever discussing CSR:

1. What’s in it for me?

and

2. What’s in it for me?

They may look like the same question but they’re not. What the SME owner / manager is probably trying to say is:

1. What’s in it for my business?

2. What’s in it for me as a real person emotionally connected to wider communities but I don’t have the confidence or knowledge to articulate that yet?

We need to understand the difference and why.

Read the rest of this entry »

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