David Coethica's Blog

Demand more good.

Archive for the ‘Sustainability’ Category

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 »

Being Good is Not Overrated

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Despicable-Me-PosterYes, I can muster a pretty impressive Meeeester Gru impression. My son may not agree, but hey, it makes me laugh.

Apologies for this post, but this is all about not-so-Despicable me. No offence taken at all if you click away at this point, as I need to indulge myself a little.

After seven and a half years of all things Coethica the time is ready for me to evolve. I know not what that change is specifically at this particular moment – all suggestions are very welcome from anywhere, or any sector in the world – but a new direction will be forged. Some interesting offers are being considered but for the sanity of everybody around me my main hat will at least be worn much less from this day on.

The reason for this channel of personal thinking out loud is to help clear my head and also tap into and share with some of the many amazing people and organisations I have met and shared many ideas online. I am by nature an explorer, a passionate creative nuisance intent on leaving our world better than it would have been without me.

After falling in love with the purest form of this thing called CSR (i.e. holistic, balanced and embedded – you know the one, the lesser spotted variety) about 15 years ago I’ve met leaders from global CEO’s to local start-up entrepreneurs in deprived communities that have both dazzled and depressed. I’ve set up social enterprises, supported corporates and what feels like everything in between. I’m sure there’s a couple of books in there somewhere.

I know for a fact business can change the world, most of the time it just needs giving the confidence to try harder.

This is not to say Coethica will be no more, version 2 is defined and ready to roll, it is that it needs at least somebody else at the helm. Let me know if you want to find out more and take the reins of a ready-made social business to change the world! My gift to the right person, with maybe a couple of thin strings.

It has been for the most part a lonely journey, both geographically and intellectually, setting off in 2005 to challenge and inspire the small and medium market (but not excluding the corporates) to see the benefits of all things CSR / social enterprise /’pick your ethical business buzzword’ all atop a rollercoaster of a personal life that until recently only began to give me genuine freedom to get out and begin to deliver what we had learned through years of grassroots SME and corporate ‘market research’.

Sometimes the hardest decision in the world is being honest with yourself and make that change to re-energise spiritually. My wonderful wife and wider family have supported me through some magical highs and crushing lows and I owe it to them to take a more simplified path. Spinning too many plates for too long, however impressive at the time, is a recipe for one hell of a mess of crockery, not that I’ve broken many but I’ve been close to a couple of wobblers.

In short, I’m taking a the next couple of months to explore my own future as a real person separate from Coethica – a hard task for any entrepreneur, and the options on the horizon so far just don’t feel like the right fit. So, if you or anybody you know has a challenge they need help with or a gap that needs filling, by somebody of certain unique cocktail of experiences and abilities, well, as long as it serves a greater good, my intrigue is open for discussion.

If anybody should want a more focused summary of me, give me a call (get in touch via the comments) as I like a good natter, or for the more passive / furtive out there, my LinkedIn profile is probably as good place to start as any.

And just for pure childish summer fun, here is the trailer for Despicable Me 2. Enjoy. Freeeeze Ray!

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