Category Archives: Communications

A Cunning Plan That Might Just Work

Did you know whilst the world goes to hell in a handbasket à la Trump, Brexit, ISIS, all reality tv, plastic microbeads et al, there is actually a plan to counteract much of humanity’s blatant disregard for our planet and respect for each other?

Ok, that may actually be a first world vision of the underworld, and the real global challenges sit lower down Maslow’s hierarchy, but that is probably too close to the blissfully ignorant view of those outside the Sustainable Development Goals bubble.

As part of my own humble action for #GlobalGoals week I’m going to post every damn day, which for me will be a near miracle when I pull it off, and some of it may even make sense, possibly even inspire an action or several.

So to kick the week off, and the next 14 years, here’s the big plan. It is not mine, but I do like it…

 

Amongst a few ideas I have I will also share an amazing trip last week to New York to jump into the world of #Impact2030 where the private sector is pushing its own efforts through human impact investment (or volunteering if you prefer). I may even cover entrepreneurship, technology, sport and BCorps, but who knows? I don’t. You’ll just have to stay tuned to enjoy the fun!

But, please, do one thing extra this week. Make an hour to read, share or just do something, anything. If you let me know what you did I may even send you a present.

#GlobalGoals

#2030Now

#Impact2030

 

Is Liam Really #TechForGood, or #MarketingForApple?

29 arms of recycling innovation robot beautifully presented (of course) and they call it Liam? Only in the world of Apple.

Whilst hastily allowing myself to lose all focus on the writing I should have been doing today I jumped at the chance to join @TomRaftery as guest co-host for his #TechForGood Google Hangout tomorrow. As I explored previous shows to get a feel for my responsibilities I stumbled back across the ‘Liam’ element of Apple’s recent keynote.

The last few weeks have been something of a blur with many new discussions and projects appearing like the Rebel Alliance out of hyperdrive, but all with an eerily connected technology flavour. The Apple announcement was momentarily noted for their strong focus on responsibility at their key communications event of their calendar, before being usurped by the usual social media avalanche.

I’ve been a long standing frustrated critic of Apple, more from a wasted potential perspective than their actual social or environmental accomplishments, which have been markedly improving over recent years. Tim Cook has many achievements to take credit for, as it can’t have been an easy task to push sustainability up the priority list of the culture moulded by Steve Jobs.

Whilst on the day Lisa Jackson (SVP of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives) was conspicuously front and centre, and the privacy debate raging with the FBI obviously adding its influence, Liam felt like the physical hook of attention for a more confident responsibility ethos away from the usual line-up of product launches.

Yes, I know there are only so many ways you can innovate with a phone, and this could be Apple running out of innovative product steam, but the eternal optimist in me is seeing Apple want to be seen as more than just a purveyor of beautiful ‘stuff’. That beauty could be creeping into their approach to their wider responsibilities.

Liam is an allegedly, as I’ve not seen many at all, 29 arm robot that can in a mere 11 seconds recycle a notoriously difficult product into component parts like never seen before. I’ve dreamed of Apple applying its design mastery for a stronger purpose than just music and communications. Was this it?

Maybe. Maybe not. After all there is only one Liam, I believe, and at full speed, could disassemble 1.2 million iPhones per year. Actually, only potentially 1.2 million iPhone 6s units until they teach it about the rest of their product back catalogue. That total would be in the billions. Last year alone Apple sold 230 million phones.

Innovative? Absolutely. Open source and shareable by the whole industry to reduce e-waste? Probably not going to happen (but hoping). Expensive? Absolutely and certainly prohibitively so. Chances of Apple opening recycling depots full of Liams? Slim. Marketing gimmick or potential for true impact? Actions speak louder than YouTube videos, so we shall see.

With over 1 billion smartphone products alone sold every year. A few weeks after the launch Liam now feels more like a lonely Disney Wall-E type character, desperate for a real purpose, a few friends and more trees, but I continue to hope.

Join me and Tom tomorrow at 4.00pm UK to explore this week’s #TechForGood news.

 

 

Superstakeholders Change The World

shutterstock_95792620We seldom realise how far we have come until we stop, breathe and look back. Ever tried learning to play a musical instrument, run a big race, or even watched a child grow? The daily changes are imperceptible, despite any volume of effort expended, until one day something just clicks, a goal is reached, or we make the time to review from a distance.

A trip back a mere half century to the 1960’s takes you to a world before ‘CSR’, of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring hitting the bookshelves and whole theatre of corporate based exploitation, greed and naivety.

“If you don’t like what is being said, change the conversation.” Continue reading

GSBA2015

And the winners of the Guardian Sustainable Business Awards 2015 are…

GSBA2015

Not all awards are created equal.

To some they are great opportunity to shine a spotlight on success, whilst others see only over indulgent attempts at PR and spin. I’ve always been a supporter of those receiving the credit they deserve for often swimming against the mainstream tide and pushing CSR and sustainability, and awards can be an effectively vehicle for spreading the word.

There is also an ever-growing number of awards of countless variations on criteria and the knack is rapidly becoming finding the most relevant awards to your project. It’s worth taking the time to do thorough research. Some awards have more credibility than others, and the Guardian Sustainable Business Awards are up there near the top.

This week I had the honour of joining Solitaire Townsend, Sally Uren, John Elkington and David Doughty to share our insight as judges for this year’s Guardian Sustainable Business Awards. It was our job to combine notes on the entries into the Consultancy of the Year and Communicating Sustainability categories.

I obviously can’t give anything away until the big announcements on the 29th April. What I am probably allowed to let you in on is that The Crystal is an amazing place to visit, John enjoyed the fish for lunch, David D may (or may not) have been a fan of The Archers, Solitaire enjoys chairing hyper-efficient groups, thus Sally was able to leave ahead of schedule, and I really enjoyed the return trip across the Thames on the Emirates Cable Car with my extra time. Thanks Solitaire!

Today (Friday 13th March) is also the final day to cast your votes for the Sustainable Business Leader and Unsung Hero. Click here to nominate your choice for recognition.

I’ve judged many awards and thought I’d offer a few probably obvious suggestions for those wanting to get a better bang for their awards application buck.

1. Be in it to win it.

If you’re proud of your innovation / success / idea, shout it from every rooftop you can find. Don’t allow potential naysayers to stop you. It is a great reward for those involved and hopefully exploited to help scale impact. There is evidence stating even critics see you in a better light, regardless of their voiced concerns.

2. Read and then answer the bloody question!

Don’t just use a box to elaborate eloquently on your wonderous initiative. Answer the question as specifically as possible. Assume the judges know nothing about your project and give details and data, not politician-like overly narrative responses to fill the word count and answer the bloody question. Rant done. Apologies offered if required. Judges really appreciate brevity!

3. Read the rules

It’s not rocket science people. Do your homework. Hit deadlines. Don’t go over maximum word counts. Don’t include extra attachments or links if not allowed. At best they’ll be ignored. At worst you’ll be disqualified.

4. Be honest with yourself.

Not every project is worthy of winning an award. Entering awards does require a certain amount of time to enter successfully. If your project doesn’t really tick the boxes asked save your time until you do have something special to compete with.

5. Ask for help

Build relationships with those conducting the award. It’s not against the rules to ask questions about the process or maybe even what has worked in the past. If you’re really stuck or enthusiastic, you can always ask me too.

6. Don’t ask for help

External advice is a double-edged sword. Outsiders maybe an option for writing award applications but they won’t know (or be as passionate about) your project as much as you do. Often naivety will be overlooked if the main details are there, and passion does win favour.

7. Plan beyond winning

Your amazing project has won? Yay! So what? That lovely new ornament needs to be more than a dust trap. Communicate through all your own channels, including sales, customer service, marketing, HR, everybody, just make sure you leverage all added value to justify the allocation of resources consumed through applying.

8. Learn from the ride

Your amazing project hasn’t won? Boo! Don’t cry. Just because you didn’t get to take home the dust trap doesn’t mean you came away with nothing. What did you learn from the process or the winners? Who did you met on this journey? How will you win next time?

Don’t forget to keep an eye on #GSBA2015 via Twitter and the Guardian Sustainable Business pages for awards updates.

Help Required For A New Home

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…

 

Could Weakness Become Your Opportunity?

A lesson in the art of vulnerability, or how to click with your ‘date’ using Corporate Social Responsibility.

 

One of those socially invisible bleached out pachyderms insists that companies should constantly defend a cloak of presented perfectionism. As the corporate communications functions of businesses tentatively emerge, like the first struggling amphibians out of the water from the control and broadcast mentality, we are seeing fascinating case studies and pockets of enlightenment.

Does anybody believe businesses are perfect? Does anybody think they even come close, ever? The countless surveys and reports on reputation and brand perception suggest Continue reading

Is Social Good Overtaking Cats?

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.