Striving for Sustainability

Striving for Sustainability

Sustainability is a hot topic and one that businesses across the board are sitting up and taking notice of with 90% of CEOs saying that sustainability is fundamental to success.

Sadly, some are still just paying lip service to this new consumer concern or worse, jumping the gun and making promises they struggle to keep. Iceland for example recently made a lot noise about eradicating palm oil from all of its own brand products by the end of 2018. While a great initiative, when January 2019 came the headlines hit that they had failed to deliver. Although the brand responded to the claims with explanations of older stock still circulating and website issues, it cast doubt in the mind of the consumer.

Perception is everything; as soon as consumer trust is lost it’s a long road back. If Iceland had chosen to report the delay ahead of the press they would have been able to drive the conversation. This way, rather than appearing as though they were trying to pull the wool over the eyes of their consumers, they would have instead presented themselves as a more transparent and trustworthy brand.

Consumers can be forgiving. If they believe in your values and your commitment then they will often understand minor setbacks, but not when they are framed as broken promises.”

Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse when it was later confirmed that Iceland had also decided to simply rename 17 products instead of reformulating the products so that they didn’t include palm oil. This they cited as a manufacturer issue and disclosed that they had not given up hope for turning this around.

In order to deliver on sustainability promises, it’s important that all areas of the business are aligned, including any external partners. Full supply chain visibility and good relationship management are vital to achieving sustainability goals as everyone needs to work together to tackle the problems effectively.

Meanwhile, your in-house team needs to prioritise these commitments and ensure that silly slips such as website errors are avoided. Prepare your PR team and keep them informed of all the developments. If you hit the target first time, great, let them shout about it! If things don’t quite go to plan then they can help you see that setbacks aren’t always scandals, they can be an opportunity to build a better relationship with your customers.

Here are our three top tips for handling a PR crisis, should the worst happen:

Think before you act: make sure you think about your prepared statement BEFORE responding to requests from the media.

Get your ducks in a row: ensure all of your internal teams are informed, including any other relevant stakeholders, too. Keep all messages aligned.

Stay ahead of social: social media can be a game changer, so make sure your messages stay consistent across all channels and that you don’t make the fire bigger by responding to people looking for an argument. Be savvy with your social strategy!

To find out more about how we help our clients to get their messages aligned, email us at
Or, read our other blogs on getting your reputation in order:
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Blog posts from Team Neo PR.

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