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TODD SMITH'S SPIN CYCLE: Top green brands: The blue oval is really green

Todd Smith

Todd Smith

Just about every major corporation today understands the importance of running a sustainable business. Generally speaking, this means one in which water gets conserved, energy and materials come increasingly from clean sources, and the social impact of the business is positive. The trouble is, until now there have been few ways to measure not only how brands are performing environmentally but also how the public perceives that performance. And how the public perceives a company’s greenness is becoming increasingly important.

That’s especially true of the millennial generation. In general, they prefer to buy from companies who share their worldview – especially when it comes to the environment. In the decade ahead, those companies that invest in initiatives that help people and the planet as well as their bottom line and who can communicate those efforts effectively will have a competitive edge.

Fortune recently published the 50 Best Global Green Brands for 2014 in conjunction with consulting firm Deloitte and Interbrand. The list was first created in 2011. This year’s nominees were drawn from Interbrand’s annual Best Global Brands report, which ranks the world’s 100 most valuable brands. The 50 companies on the Best Global Green Brands list were ranked in two ways: on the strength of their sustainability initiatives and on how the public perceives those efforts.

The surprise on this year’s list was that Ford replaced Toyota as the No. 1 brand. Ford’s philosophy is that sustainability issues should be integrated into the business. The automaker now offers seven electrified models. Six are hybrids. The seventh, the Focus Electric, is a pure battery electric car.

The two brands that jumped the most this year were IKEA (No. 19) and Zara (No. 34), each rising 14 places from last year. The Swedish home furnishings chain announced that it would be teaming up with Nissan (No. 5) and energy provider Ecotricity to install electric car charging stations for customers at all U.K. stores. IKEA is one of the first major retailers to offer electric charging points – a proactive strategy to help meet the growing demand from their customers. Spanish retailer Zara is committed to implementing sustainable practices across it operations, from introducing a waste management policy across its flagships, using organic cotton and ecological fabrics, and educating staff on sustainable practices, such as limiting energy consumption. By 2020, all its existing stores around the world aim to be 100 percent eco-efficient.


Key findings in the rankings:

» Sony (No. 7) and Adidas (No. 8) enter into the top 10 for the first time, while Johnson & Johnson falls six places to No. 12 and Volkswagen falls nine places to No. 16.

» Top Risers: IKEA climbed 14 spots to secure the No. 19 position while Zara also climbed 14 places to claim the No. 34 position. Philips moved up nine places to take the No. 14 spot and Adidas jumped up seven places to No. 8.

» Automotive, electronic & technology brands occupy nearly 50 percent of the overall ranking; 10 brands hail from the automotive sector, while 12 brands come from the electronics and technology sectors.

» Brands within the financial services sector struggle to become sustainability leaders: Allianz and Citi fall off this year’s ranking, while AXA falls one place to take the No. 45 position and Santander moves up two places to No. 44.

» Three new brands joined the 2014 ranking, including Chevrolet (No. 32), Disney (No. 49), and Heineken (No. 50).


Top 10 Greenest Brands of 2014












Media Pitching Tips For PR Pros

Like a major league pitcher warming up in the bull pin for the World Series – us PR practitioners and media pros are constantly striving for inventive ways to ad sizzle to our media pitches to notch more home runs for our brands.

AirPR, a leading firm that tracks the performance of PR initiatives by measuring media coverage, web traffic, number of articles written, social media conversation and how online interactions drive sales, recently released a comprehensive report on the best ways to grab headlines. This caught The Spin Cycle’s eye. Here are some useful tips for PR pros, companies trying to use the media to their advantage and journalists covering brands,


» Set your embargos for early-morning hours

Traffic on websites spikes between 6 a.m. Central and 9 a.m. Central, even though half as many articles get published during those times than at 3 p.m. Central. (People also, more predictably, read a lot during the 12 o’clock lunch hour. Instead of setting that embargo for 3 p.m. Central – not really sure the logic of that time-stamp anyway. Plan on media distribution in the mornings or around lunchtime.


» Forget about Fridays

Big bumps in readership happen on Mondays and Wednesdays. People are too busy actually working on Tuesdays to read, it seems. And Fridays? Fridays basically don’t exist on the Internet. (Which is one reason companies often release damaging or negative news late on a Friday afternoon, like no one will notice.) ” The most optimal time to pitch news stories are Mondays and Wednesdays, either first thing in the morning, or in time for lunch on the East Coast.


» Your own blog can be the best platform

Relying on media alone to tell a story can be tricky. Unless working with certain press-release distribution outlets, you will definitely not get the stories of your choosing. Lucky for companies, a company blog can drive a lot of traffic and sales – when done right.


» The ideal post length is 1,500 words

It’s a little difficult for a company to ask a journalist to pen an article of a certain length, but media professionals, take note: posts between 1,000 and 2,000 words drive the most traffic, and result in the best social media attention. Engagement drops off at 4,000 words and picks back up at 5,000, which is interesting.

Many companies measure PR efforts cumulatively, which is certainly a good diagnostic for the overall success of a campaign – more articles over time drives audience and ad value. However, you should go a step further and begin looking at their PR strategies as snapshots in time and consistency is the best media policy. How does one PR effort, social media initiative, blog post, or news article look at a given moment? If done right, PR should result in heartbeat visuals – steady spikes of conversation that tends to look more like a heartbeat. Those bursts of chatter drive awareness about your company and your brand – and ultimately result in greater ROI.


U.S. goalie Tim Howard

U.S. goalie Tim Howard

Golden Mic | Tim Howard’s Super-Human World Cup Performance

As Team USA battled through an ulcer-inducing overtime against Belgium, one thing was clear: Tim Howard single-handedly carried America through its bittersweet World Cup adventure. More than a dozen times he rescued the U.S. from the Belgian onslaught, improbably blocking shot after shot. It cannot be overstated how devastating Kevin De Bruyne’s game-changing goal for Belgium was but neither can Howard’s super-human performance. Howard had the most saves in a single game, 16, in World Cup history. America owes an improbably large thank you to Howard for leading us. And it seems with Howard’s heroics, Americans are officially caring more about soccer. We watched the game in record numbers, eclipsing both baseball’s World Series – our national pastime – and the NBA finals. But Howard single-handedly kept the U.S. afloat, and in the process took soccer awareness – and fever – to new heights. For that, he takes this week’s Golden Mic.

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!


» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.



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About Ross Reily

Ross Reily is editor of the Mississippi Business Journal. He is a husband to an amazing wife, dad to 3 crazy kids and 2 dogs. He is also a fan of the Delta State Fighting Okra and the Boston Red Sox.

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