It came as no surprise that Lord Deben’s contribution to the recent Foodservice Packaging Association’s annual Environment Seminar http://bit.ly/2jF1D5g focussed not only on the sustainable arguments relating to the future of foodservice packaging – including paper coffee cups – but also focused on the importance to the industry of corralling arguments and the industry speaking with one voice. He rehearsed some simple but effective arguments in reputation management – perhaps learned from his brother Lord Chadlington, prior Chairman of the Huntsworth PR Group.
Lord Deben pointed out that the foodservice packaging industry needs to focus not necessarily on the real priorities as defined by the industry, but on what is perceived to matter in terms of public opinion – governments react to public opinion and are looking for easy wins in a time of austerity. With that in mind, business needs to spot the things it can win and not go after those it can’t. He also emphasised the importance of gaining stakeholder support for your programme, setting achievable targets and reporting back on them regularly to illustrate how far you have travelled in any given time frame. Gaining trust from your stakeholders, getting them to believe you and recognise that you keep your promises are fundamental elements for success. This illustrates how strong communication is absolutely fundamental to business success
Lord Deben also gave some sound advice for those needing to gain the ear of government – which can be inclined to confuse popular opinion with the views of the popular press. He made one point which struck home and is often ignored by some areas of PR – make use of your MP. In fact make use of all MP’s – in a membership organisation members will operate in many constituencies – so use your members to brief MP’s so that when the issue comes up in the House you have a body of MP’s who are informed and are able to make the right decision. Simple but very effective.