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Green is the New Black

Developments about the regulations that govern sustainability and green business are crucial in their own way. This time around, columnist Midori Connolly gets into the business side of sustainability and, more specifically, how AV pros can stand to profit from the green AV movement.

Now, to truly comprehend the opportunity of branding and messaging around sustainable AV, we must consider what it is about purchasing products and/or services from a green company that's so appealing to a potential buyer. I'd suggest it's because done right, it can be as easy as it is fulfilling. Few other movements have ever provided the opportunity to directly communicate a company's values. If in our manufacturer example, the company were to stick an eco-label, such as the EPA's Energy Star logo, smack dab on the front of its projectors, in its operational manuals, and all over other messaging it gives to customers, it would effectively convey its company mission with just that one simple gesture.

Something like an eco-label or ISO certification is a bold, clear statement of a company's commitment to sustainability. It declares the company worked hard and cared enough to comply with environmental standards, which in turn demonstrates the organization's concern for more than just selling a product. It stands for a firm's longevity, its potential to be in the middle of things in the future, which is very important to a client making a large expenditure, especially in the current economy.

Additionally, sustainable business practices generally indicate the forefront of technological innovation. So a company that clearly communicates its sustainable practices also positions itself as a leader in innovation.

While we might all stand to profit from the message of a green brand, there's one thing we should keep in mind. In a recent presentation on green branding, Annie Longsworth of Cohn & Wolfe said that when it comes to being green, perfection isn't imperative. But in the extensive Twitter conversation that ensued, everyone agreed that authenticity is. Today's buyer is no dummy–they approach the very idea of green AV with a healthy dose of skepticism and will want to know how, exactly, AV can be "green." In the absence of something like the Energy Star seal or BS8901 green event certification, your company should keep a detailed list of its green practices and/or products. Transparency is vital.

If you're being authentic, don't fall prey to the new phenomenon of "greenmuting," where companies are too modest or uncertain to talk about their sustainability efforts. By all means, document your green policies, create a structured communications plan, and let the world know that you're striving to make a difference. In sharing your sustainable business practices, you can inspire other AV pros, bolster loyalty in client relations and ultimately achieve a robust "financial statement." AV

Midori Connolly is CEO of Pulse Staging and Events in San Diego, a member of the Green Meeting Industry Council, a corporate social responsibility trainer for Meeting Professionals International, and an InfoComm lecturer on green AV topics.

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