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Investing in effective communications: Is it worth it?

As a sustainability change-agent - from technical specialists in climate and biodiversity, development agency analysts, NGO workers and tech-smart developers to impact-driven business leaders, philanthropists and grassroots activists — one of your principle aims is to influence key decision-makers, whether that’s national policymakers, business shareholders or indeed individual consumers, to make more informed sustainably-smart choices and decisions that scale up positive impact.

This means that the more effective and strategic your communications are, the more impact your organisation will have and the more behaviours you will change. Slowly but surely, one changed mind at a time.

The cost of ineffective vs effective communications

The true value and transformative power that communications - both internal and external - can have, is still not fully appreciated nor understood across many organisations. This means that communication teams and departments are often underfunded, leaving them little space to unleash their full potential to further elevate both business and organisational impact. Whilst the digital revolution - including the boom in social media - has definitely put communications under the spotlight, more can be done, especially when it comes to strategically effective communications. But is it worth the investment?

Let’s look at the numbers:

1. Miscommunication loses money; effective communication earns it

Research on the financial impact of inadequate internal communication has shown it costs companies with 100 employees a staggering US$402,000 over an average year. For organisations with 100,000 employees, this annual loss soars to US$62.4 million. Consider the relative cost-per-employee for your own organisation: how much value could you save — and add — by investing in training to improve your internal communication capability and as a result, also your external delivery?

Given that solid internal communication capability is key to creating effective external communications - it’s not surprising that 46% of businesses have lost their audience because of a lack of focus in this area. When it comes to sustainability, we might think of this as lost collaborator, sponsor or consumer interest; missed opportunities to communicate the ways your organisation is striving to change the world for the better; or missed chances to change decision-makers’ mindsets once and for all.

Furthermore, communications misalignment between internal departments can cost companies 10% or more in annual revenue. On the flip side, however, organisations that ensure effective internal communication and alignment are 67% better at taking action with external collaborators.

2. Strategic messaging drives your impact and sparks behaviour change

Infusing your messaging with strategy and creativity is key to achieving transformational impact. It also primes you for increased target audience engagement, particularly through delivering on social media platforms. For example, strategic messaging not only boosts higher social media shares and website traffic, but also enables smaller companies to be seen and heard alongside established competitors, who are able to spend far more on traditional marketing.

We can see the desire to change is there: 33% of Dutch consumers, for example, say that Covid-19 increased their interest in environmental and social issues, while over 70% of Nordic consumers factor sustainability into their purchase decisions. Your messaging simply needs to speak to this desire so that you can boost your audience engagement and, from there, encourage behaviour change.

3. Effective communication boosts your organisational reputation and longevity

To thrive long-term, organisations that are driving positive change have to deliver for both employees and shareholders, as well as their target audiences.

When it comes to employee retention and organisational longevity, those organisations that place emphasis on good communications - inside and out - generally experience lower employee turnover. This not only saves on recruitment and onboarding costs, but allows your organisation to retain the experience, sector know-how and enabling mindsets needed to evolve long-term sustainability initiatives — while building trusted relationships and collaborative partnerships that stand the test of time.

Organisations with highly effective communication at their core also have a 47% higher total return to shareholders, which, for the likes of NGOs, development agencies and startups etc., can be seen as the equivalent of being able to boost organisational and programme funding. While, in an ideal world, positive impact would be a metric that keeps everyone satisfied, sustainability-focused organisations that can deliver both their goals and keep funding sources flowing are in the strongest positions to drive lasting, scalable change.

It’s time to put communications front and centre

If you’re aiming to achieve true transformation in any form, the time to re-evaluate your relationship with communications is now. Organisations in the sustainability sphere simply can’t afford to let communications be a rushed, underfunded, bolt-on at the end of a project. To generate meaningful impact, it has to be a core element that’s integrated into the projects that you pursue right from the onset.

By making a healthy initial investment in setting yourself up strategically from the start - moving yourself out of reactive communications to proactive - will not only save you time and money further down the line but will also ensure your medium and longer term success. At the end of the day, if you’re not pushing for effective communications, you’re not pushing for behaviour change.

How HuckleBe makes your investment into communications worth it

By harnessing the power of transformative communications, we enable you to realise your full impact potential, boost your brand resilience and shore you up as an impact-driven leader. We do this by working with you to cultivate the behaviour change you look for in your target audiences with regard to sustainability — from making more informed decisions, to updating policy and rethinking business models, to unlocking finance and donations. We help you to break new ground, by leveraging curiosity, empathy and creativity to create momentum for change.