Set deep context

Illustration for speak to values which has the wording all systems go over the top
Your business operates as part of an ecosystem – exchanging resources, capital, ideas, and impacts with the world. People haven’t always seen this clearly, but this is beginning to change. Comms should embrace this.  

We all work within complex natural, economic, and social systems – ecologies, if you will – with upstream inputs, downstream impacts and deep interdependencies. We all became acutely aware of this during Covid when supply chains snags became headline news. But systems dependencies go far beyond shipping routes and factory outputs.


When a bank fails, it can lead to changes in the green energy transition (SVB was the bank of choice for many American climate tech startups; the failure had huge impacts for these fledgling companies). When a country goes to war, it leads to spikes in energy prices, and trade-offs in the energy mix, as all of us know all too well.


Evidence is mounting that climate change is driving inflation – and it stands to reason, with failed crops, water scarcity, disruptive weather events, and geopolitical tensions all driving up the cost of doing business.


Increasingly, we all understand that these issues overlap and feed into one another. The more dramatic among us call it the ‘polycrisis’, but it’s clearly the risk environment into which we’re heading.


Illuminating this wider context in your comms can highlight these risks, yes. But shining the light is how we first see, then manage, those risks. It’s also where we first see opportunities.


A systems view is what the world at large needs to build. Serve that view with your comms.

What to do:

Paint the big picture

Highlight the interlinked factors you depend on for sustainable delivery – and the downstream elements you affect, for both social and natural spheres. Also, speak to partners, coalitions, and lobbying efforts. This full picture of the complete ecology of your business engenders clarity and allows you to control the narrative over time.

Show the whole life cycle

It’s not about a small, shiny part of your product equation. It’s the entire life cycle, including raw materials, energy costs, how it’s used in the world and its afterlife. Don’t focus on the good and cut out the bad. Audiences (and more importantly, regulators) are calling that out now.

Foreground risk

There’s undeniable risk on the horizon for every sector, from resource scarcity to weather shocks. If you’re transparent about these risks, you’re probably handing them better than competitors. Investors will take notice. Customers will trust you. You’re readier for a changing picture. 

Deliver resilience

Delivering good outcomes is so far beyond CSR now – so much more than token, peripheral initiatives that make good highlights in an annual report. Your strategy should work toward real resilience in communities, and in nature, for every region in which you operate. The companies that support adaptation and resilience today will be light years ahead as impacts mount in the years ahead. Strive for stories that meet that standard.