Communications Strategies for Climate Action

Communicating About Climate Action

When used thoughtfully, communication is central to sustainability leadership. This will include incorporating insights from psychology and acknowledging that information alone will not create behaviour change. Building a sustainable culture on-set and off requires effective communication which involves focusing on authentic engagement and agency, understanding how to craft messages that will motivate behaviour change, leveraging the right influencers, embracing transparency to build trust and using urgency to drive engagement. 

Effective communications can help engage and motivate everyone on your team, from the writers and directors, cast and crew to investors and audiences. It is also one of the strategies that can enable a company to take advantage of the opportunities offered by embracing sustainability.

Mind the “Say-Do” Gap: One of the trickiest conundrums in sustainability is how to close the so-called “say-do gap” which is the differential between what a person or organization claims as their values and priorities, and their actual behaviour. An individual - or a company - may claim to care about the environment, but continue historical consumption patterns or continue high-emitting activities with no real willingness to change. In crafting your communications, ensure you are communicating a true reflection of your actions and intentions. Not meeting every goal is totally fine; disingenuous “all talk but no walk” will be obvious and will damage trust and engagement. 

Engagement: Communication is a two-way street and leaders should seek out feedback and listen to the needs and concerns of interest-holders. Decision-makers should be willing to change behaviours and transparently and authentically communicate their ambitions, activities and achievements. 

Corporate Communications: Storytelling as part of corporate communications can help communicate vision and values, which drives strategic change by letting strategy be understood on a personal level, resulting in stronger teams and a sense of community.

Reporting: Transparency is a core value for sustainability and reporting is a tool businesses can use to communicate with various stakeholders. Reporting (e.g., carbon footprints, green wrap memos, impact reports) is one way producers and companies can communicate their performance and sustainability story with interest-holders like funders, buyers, talent and employees. Their value however goes beyond communication - as producers monitor performance, this provides data for other producers and the industry at large to shape priorities and strategy.  

Sources matter. People respect different sources (from peers, to celebrities, leaders or scientists). Use trustworthy, credible communicators that will be most effective in reaching your target audience. As a producer or decision-maker, your voice may not always be the most influential, depending on your goals and audience. Consider talent, who hold a unique position in our industry and can act as ambassadors for sustainability, using their social capital to draw attention to climate initiatives.

Create a sense of urgency. It’s not called a climate crisis for nothing. Facts alone do not convince individuals to change their lifestyles or form different values. Craft messages that appeal to heads and hearts. Describe policies, opportunities and goals in terms of urgency (windows open today may not be tomorrow) to unify people around a common goal and where energy should be directed. Maintain a sense of urgency and momentum by celebrating wins, continuing to push for improvement and keeping the end goal in sight.