Using Analytics & Storytelling to Promote Sustainability
Storytelling Is Part of What Makes us Human
Storytelling is an essential part of being human. It’s how we connect and understand each other. Creating, telling, and sharing stories is how we make sense of the world and of the complexity of the human experience.
Data and analytics give us facts. Few people however, enjoy doing their own analyses of data, and facts or figures derived from data are meaningless without a story to frame them.
As a result, there is a critical junction between analytics and storytelling. Producers Trust has arrived at this junction.
Let us explain the connection between sustainability, storytelling, and validated data.
Perhaps we didn’t always see such a connection between storytelling and analytics. Now however, they are becoming deeply intertwined. Using narratives to share facts gives them context and insight. Narrative gives us a way to interpret them meaningfully. Now most brands are looking for ways to use data to tell a story.
The crucial part here is in collecting good quality data like primary, zero party data or data from the ground. To avoid greenwashing, data must be accurate and quality. And to be trustworthy, it must be verified and/or validated through transparent means.
It sounds like a lot to navigate, and it is. We have entered new supply chain and business territory here. It’s a process that many of us in the industry are just beginning to see the critical importance of and now beginning to build structure around.
Producers Trust is determined to be a leading force in this process.
Stories trigger an emotional reaction and build emotional connection. Accurate data gives the story truth. To catch people’s attention, the best data stories aim to spark an emotional trigger first before they delve into the logical details.
Most people don’t understand the details of analytics, but they do want evidence of analysis and data. Often people connect most with stories from personal experiences or anecdotes, but these types of stories aren’t necessarily convincing when it comes to fact-based analysis. The most compelling stories are those that combine data and analytics, and a point of view or example that involves real people and organizations.
Some companies are deliberately deceitful in their marketing, actively engaging in greenwashing and pretending to be more sustainable than they are in order to sell more products to consumers who value sustainability. This is unacceptable.
On the other side, a lot of companies aren’t leveraging their corporate social responsibility data to tell compelling stories about their brand. Ironically, some may not do it because they fear being accused of greenwashing. Others may just lack the capacity to gather quality data or to tell good stories.
This is where Producers Trust comes in. With storytelling and traceability tools like StoryBird, and collaborations with third-party data verification companies, we are supporting brands in validating their data and then sharing it with the world.
What Makes a Good Sustainability Story?
First, let’s look at what isn’t working. As of 2017, the Governance and Accountability Institute reported that 85 percent of S&P 500 Index companies had published ESG reports. This high percentage is a good thing, right? Not necessarily. Companies may follow one or more sets of standards in preparing their reports, but the data on company sustainability typically comes from voluntary ESG reporting, and the reports are customized to suit the companies’ independent views ESG criteria. The data may be inferred or modeled data. Or it may not even be accurate. This practice of self-disclosure without external verification results in data sets that are difficult to adequately compare.
For true sustainability narratives that showcase real impact, companies and brands must begin with accurate data from the ground. Ideally, this data is validated by a third party. From there, let the storytelling begin. Sustainability narratives should emphasize how a company’s innovation and ingenuity leads to solutions. They should highlight the work companies are doing to confront problems and should be transparent in what is working and what is not. These data-backed stories should also demonstrate how a brand appreciates and respects environmental and human resources and how they make long-term commitments to creating more holistic economies.
When there is verified data to back it up, brands can make sustainability an integral part of their brand identity, and their sustainability data stories will inspire consumers and stakeholders to buy-in to the company’s long-term vision.
Proof of Concept of Authenticated Analytics & Storytelling Practices
As Producers Trust began connecting with producers and brands around the world, we became increasingly inspired by the work many of them do to regenerate our earth and take care of life upon it. We have been so excited to share their stories and we know that consumers want to know more about where, who and how their products arrive to them. After years of expanding our network and building these connections, we began to realize that what our storytelling platform needed, so that we would not inadvertently encourage greenwashing, is a data verification component. We want to share validated, authenticated, accurate data about the brands we work with so they may thrive and connect with a larger audience and continue their work in sustainability.
EcoFashion Corp, with their line of sustainable clothing YesAnd, is an example of how we are putting this all together. This is a brand who infuses ethical sourcing and production into all aspects of their work. We have been sharing their stories on our platform for quite some time. Now, in collaboration with a data verification company called Credible and our integrated blockchain technology, anyone can access their validated data and stories from their profile and their StoryBird.
At Producers Trust, we are excited to be present for the union of solid data and compelling stories. As always, our objective remains clear, to empower producers and share their stories with the world.
Stay connected as we share more about our innovative work and meaningful partnerships.