Written by Marcy Fitzpatrick
From consumer packaged goods to fashion, sustainability is still on a steady upswing – a 50% upswing in fact. According to a recent NYU Stern study, reported by the Harvard Business Review, 50% of growth in purchases of consumer packaged goods from 2013-2018 came from sustainability-marketed products.
With 75% of consumers around the world viewing sustainability as extremely or very important, now more than ever is the time to position sustainably-minded
brands in front of the proper media outlets to garner appropriate awareness and visibility.
If your client has a sustainability platform or eco-minded product, but you aren’t quite sure how to leverage that into a positive media presence- read on for five tried and true tips for successful sustainability pitching.
1. Identify the exact sustainable practices
With constant consumer clutter and new brands kickstarting every month, it’s important to know what makes your client stand out. Determine what sustainability practices the brand or company takes part in that might make them stand out from the competition. Do they make a product out of earth-conscious materials, do they have a give-back initiative that supports the environment, are they looking to disrupt the industry with sustainable innovations? Some companies and brands may be B Corporation Certified or 1% For the Planet members that donate sales to non-profit organizations.
Find potential story hooks for media by searching within the brand or company’s mission.
2. Clarify policies to avoid greenwashing
Don’t mislead editors, they are great at their job for a reason. They do their research and ask all the right questions to tell a story, so don’t try to provide them with false information or exaggerated claims. That means you can promote specific eco initiatives or green products, but don’t say a brand is “sustainable” if technically, it’s not. Review the supply chain. Determine where there are gaps in labor transparency, production waste and recycling.
Fast Company provided a greenwashing checklist for fashion brands earlier this year. It’s a good start to get a sense of establishing credibility within a sustainably-minded brand.
3. Create a FAQ with approved answers for sustainability or social good efforts
Consider all the questions the media may ask you about how the brand or company relates to their sustainability practices. Prepare a list of questions for the owners or executives at the company to answer and have on file. Use them as quotes within press releases or to supplement story pitches. This usually heavily touches on a brand’s mission statement, and can often include their plans for furthering their impact in the future (reducing waste, increasing the use of recycled materials, becoming carbon-positive etc.).
4. Identify Green + Eco Media Themes with Ed-Cals
Next month (and every January thereafter!), start downloading editorial calendars at major publications. You may find “Green Design” themes and “Eco Living” issues for Spring. While some publications write about sustainable brands and earth-friendly products throughout the year, others have key dates where pitching is in your favor:
• Earth Day (April 22)
• World Oceans Day (June 8)
• National Recycling Day (November 15)
• Giving Tuesday (Tuesday after Thanksgiving)
• Holiday Gift Guides (November) *this one is great with “gifts that give back” for brands or products with a charitable component.
5. Develop A SUSTAINABILITY MEDIA LIST
This year over 300 media outlets joined Columbia Journalism Review’s Covering Climate Now initiative, calling publications across the globe to report on the climate crisis, environmental and sustainability trends leading up to the United Nations Climate Action Summit in September. Publications like Adweek, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Buzzfeed, HuffPost and Bustle all started covering sustainability. It was amazing. However, there are outlets writing about sustainable brands, practices and products every day from fashion sites like Who What Wear to travel publications like CondeNast Traveler.
Here are a few publications dedicated to sustainability and covering earth-conscious brands:
• Fast Company
Don’t forget to pitch bloggers and influencers, too:
• Eco Warrior Princess
• The Honest Consumer
• Sedona Christina
• Eco Chic Podcast
The list goes on and on. There are countless publications and different approaches to take, but if you take advantage of holiday timing, stay on top of ed-cals, and do the groundwork to support sustainability claims (nobody wants a greenwashing PR crisis on their hands!), you’re on the right track to landing coverage for your client!
Marcy Fitzpatrick is a pubic relations, marketing and copywriting specialist from California who currently resides in sunny Puerto Rico. Her experience spans over a decade serving clients in the lifestyle, retail, hospitality, fashion, action sports and entertainment spaces. She has managed national press and marketing campaigns, Olympic athlete victories, retail openings and boutique hotel launches, with an emphasis on earned media coverage through brand development, product placement and unique editorial storytelling. Her keen understanding of brand messaging as seen by the consumer and media, has led her to craft strategies and language to reach the masses, with a history in cause marketing campaigns and sustainable practices. She is currently available for freelance projects. Connect with her on LinkedIn.