Commercial Brands in a Sustainability-Driven Business World…

November 30 2023

The main role we have, as PR and communication consultants, is to advise and support our clients to build honest, truth-based communications. This is highly important for any communication area and it’s actually vital when we discuss about sustainability.  Because we all need higher moral choices in this strange world we live in today, after so many excesses and crises in the last decades. The ESG agenda plays a part of this global conversation and it’s also a way to heal some of these issues, in the business environment and wider.

I think ESG can – and must – be seen as a moment of clarity and a beneficial wake-up call for companies, who need to understand one basic truth – economic actors and commercial brands are no longer outside or besides the public zone. Actually, they ARE the public zone, so they have to behave accordingly.

As I discuss on this week’s PRGN Presents podcast, the main challenge we have to overcome is to help clients realize two important ideas about ESG.

The first one is that ESG is not a trend. There is still a huge lack of understanding, in Romania at least, on how ESG can and will impact the overall business. There is still a lot of distrust, ignorance, avoidance, even fear and this is like a dark curtain, blocking companies to also see the benefits, because ESG have huge benefits, both for business and society:

  • On the social and public level – public trust, transparency, peace of mind, the power to influence policies and decisions, as a social actor; because, according to the latest research, more than 50% of the global public consider leading companies to have the responsibility to stand for relevant social issues and values.
  • On the financial and investors level – we know very well that soon the cost of money, at least in Europe, will really hurt for the ESG non-compliant businesses, so the companies need to build investors’ confidence right now.
  • On the business efficiency – becoming ESG means to optimize costs, improve the processes, restructure and align the business to more healthy principles, for a more sustainable growth; and this is a great business transformation exercise and, even if it seems hard and expensive, it’s much better and much cheaper to start it now than later.
  • Last but not the least, we have the communication level – ESG is a very rich base for a highly transparent and stakeholder-relevant communication. On the long run, it is also the best antidote against greenwashing hypocrisy and a solid way to build lasting trust and reputation.

The second challenge we have is to help clients understand there is no time. Now there is more talk than doing, but the clock is ticking and the changes are not easy ones, they are deep, systemic changes. To name just a few, they mean doing due diligence, double materiality assessment, then changing the business model, finding global standards for reporting, setting clear targets and getting there, constantly communicating and so on. All these are not easy and really take time, so companies have to start the process immediately.

Today, brands are expected to mimic human personality and behave like citizens, to have opinions and follow causes, to defend the greater good and to act and react accordingly. And, most importantly, to behave responsibly.

It’s vital for all of us – brands, the public, investors, partners, and authorities – to understand that ESG benefits, on medium and long term, clearly offset current worries, challenges and pain.

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Alexandra Dinita
General Manager, Sample Page
Alexandra is a founder and the main shareholder of Free Communication in Bucharest, Romania. With a degree in architecture and urbanism, Alexandra has chosen to take challenges of the communications field more than 20 years ago. With an extensive experience in PR & marketing, she has coordinated integrated communication services for large international brands and companies in challenging industries as healthcare, aviation, finance & insurance, automotive, retail, construction. Alexandra also holds a degree in Executive MBA from ASSEBUSS/Kennesaw State University Program. At Free Communication she is in charge of business strategy and development, international relations and development and supervising strategy for key clients.

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