As a B2B PR consultancy specialising in professional services, much of our work tends to involve writing fairly gritty, technical articles, often around complex financial issues. When we came across an organisation which needed to communicate with businesses to persuade them to support environmental projects that are protecting the world’s rainforests and so reducing climate change – we were inspired to help.
The United Bank of Carbon www.unitedbankofcarbon.com (UBoC) is the brainchild of Jonathan Wild, former chairman and chief executive of Bettys & Taylors Group www.bettysandtaylors.co.uk . Having spent much of his career leading a company with strong links to the tropics through its tea and coffee growers, Jonathan was ahead of the times, investing in environmental initiatives long before the concept became popular.
Twenty years ago Jonathan started a campaign to engage customers in support the company’s environmental projects. Since then, Bettys & Taylors of Harrogate has succeeded in planting three million trees across the globe and its latest mammoth undertaking is to support a UBoC project that is working to save a rainforest in Peru which is the size of the Yorkshire Dales.
The Bettys Taylors name has become synonymous with green initiatives and ethical trading and there can be little doubt that its phenomenal success as a business owes much to the place it has won in the hearts of its customers and staff as a result.
Anyone who has met Jonathan will know that his conviction is contagious. Having listened to him explain his vision to a journalist, we immediately offered our services on a pro bono basis to support UBoC’s communications needs. Working with Jonathan and fellow trustee, Professor Piers Forster of the University of Leeds, we have re-launched a brand new website for the organisation to showcase its achievement so far and encourage more businesses to join the collaboration.
The re-designed website now focuses on the motivations that have driven supporters’ involvement. It is not necessarily a case of ticking the corporate social responsibility box, it may that supporters gain benefits through improved employee engagement and customer loyalty or they may be thinking of the future potential of carbon credits. The reason for involvement doesn’t matter, what is important is the fact that leading companies such as Deloitte, Bibby Line Group, Straight plc, Premier Farnell and DDB believe that they have something to gain from their investment.
With PR ‘greenwash’ receiving much criticism in recent years, supporting UBoC is an easy way in which businesses can make a genuine contribution to protecting our world. Surely the success of Bettys & Taylors, a £103m business and blender of Yorkshire tea, the third largest tea brand in the UK, is proof that investing in the environment really is a sound commercial investment.
Susan Reid, Appeal PR