I’ve seen and heard of some pretty spectacular events hosted by communities, corporations and organizations all in the name of Earth Day (April 22). Why, there is even rumor of an RRS alumni that wore a soda can costume to promote recycling during a previous life in a community position. I believe there was also mention of rolling down a hill – no proof as to whether that was a malicious act or self-inflicted fun.
Earth Day is also a perfect time to ensure that your program communications are up-to-date and readily available. So I pulled in two consultants with ample experience – one to talk about community programs and another to highlight corporate programs.
First up is Marissa Segundo, communications consultant here at RRS and former recycling coordinator for Largo, Fl.
“This month you’ll see an influx of articles, interviews, blogs and other media spotlighting recycling, composting, donating, reuse and so forth,” states Marissa. “Residents will be looking for more information on their community’s programs. This is a key moment for you to evaluate the language you used in your messaging and that the message is available via a variety of platforms.”
Marissa suggests conducting a quick communications audit to prepare for the uptick in information-seeking traffic.
- Understand Your Audience. Look at demographics and identify where they get their information (e.g. newspaper, mailers, website, social media, public office, live events, etc.).
- Understand Your Program. How is participation? Have you talked with MRFs or drivers about contamination issues? Are residents confused about collection days? Identify any issues that you may need to address in your messaging.
- Review Your Materials. Are they clear and concise? Are they in formats that fit your audience (i.e. hardcopy, electronic)? Is there an easy way to contact someone with further questions? Be sure to address any new materials or issues you have identified with the program.
- Location, Location, Location. Based on your audience, are your materials located where they seek information? Is it easy to find?
- Frequency. How often are you sending out reminders or links? Does it need to be more or less often?
- Measure Your Message. How are you verifying your message is received and the desired action is taken? Have you set goals for your messaging material? What tools can you use to link action to the messaging methods?
When I think of business I borrow from our restaurant friends and split operations into front of house and back of house. In the front you have employee interaction – office paper, mail, cardboard boxes, lunch and its various accoutrements. In the back you have manufacturing and processing – pallets, shrink wrap, cardboard, product rejections/scraps, residual materials, etc.
Next we bring in RRS consultant Kelly Domino who states that no matter the side of the house, you must keep your communications current and accessible.
Kelly also echoed Marissa’s suggestion to conduct a communications audit to see where you are, where you are missing the mark, and how you can improve.
“Posting signage and circulating updates via the company intranet are great procedures,” states Kelly. “But don’t forget the impact training can have on participation.”
Kelly continues, “We know there are different types of learning and by hosting training sessions – whether they are live, virtual or recorded – allows for auditory and visual learning to reinforce the reading provided in documents and posts.”
If you’ve established goals, which is essential to understanding your impact, you should celebrate when you achieve or exceed them.
“Drawing attention to an accomplishment, that took the cooperation of many, will validate and emphasize its importance while acknowledging the effort invested – not to mention reinforcing the continuation of effort,” states Kelly.
So go ahead and plan your community clean ups and corporate giveaways. Put on that soda can costume – watch out for those hills – but don’t neglect your communications. Make Earth Day continue every day.