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"The year 2006 will go down in history as the year global warming became a prominent political and business issue in the United States -- years after it had become a mainstream discussion topic in many European countries."

So begins "Ecological Sustainability: The Dominant Corporate Communications Issue of the Decade," a new white paper from Bite Communications. In the paper, authors George Basile and Burghardt Tenderich address the dual challenges and opportunities posed by climate change and the new age of social media.

Companies are increasingly adapting their messages to address environmental issues, and the paper stresses the importance of making sure operations, communication and strategy are all aligned to create a transparent platform that can withstand close scrutiny by both mainstream media and individuals using web 2.0 media like blogs and social networking sites.

One example offered is a technology company that markets products based on environmental benefits -- such as low power consumption -- is well advised to disclose the environmental footprint of their manufacturing operations, and ideally, announce steps to become environmentally more sustainable.

The paper proposes a new strategy for corporate communications that focuses on five key principles: transparency, authenticity, knowledge and expertise, engagement, dialogue and partnership, and gaining trust.