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Green Campus

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  1. Module 1. Introduction to Green Campus
    1 Topic
  2. Module 2. Glossary to Green Campus
    3 Topics
    1 Quiz
  3. Module 3. Physical Activity, Sport and Sustainability
    4 Topics
    3 Quizzes
  4. Module 4. Sustainability and Innovation
    2 Topics
    2 Quizzes
  5. Module 5. Sustainable and effective communication for Green Campus
    4 Topics
    1 Quiz
  6. Module 6. The Green Campus Label
    3 Topics
    1 Quiz
  7. Final Assignment: Build your own Green Campus Good Practice
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Where to start?

Creating a communication strategy is the first step to good communication. Planning is the key for success in any task, particularly if this task is going to be performed over time and has a set of defined goals. Hence, a Communication Plan should be part of your broader Green Campus strategy, and be consistent with its objectives, framework, activities and capabilities. 

A Communication Plan is a strategic document that functions as a roadmap for communication and dissemination efforts. This communication plan will determine:

  • Your objectives for communication and dissemination.
  • Your target audience or audiences.
  • What to communicate, and why.
  • Where to communicate, how often, and how.
  • How to track and measure the success of communication efforts and the consecution of your goals.

To start developing a Communication Plan, the first step is to stop and think about your goals. What do you want to achieve with this communication effort? What are the values you want to transmit? Why? To whom? For this, you will need to have a deep understanding of the Green Campus strategy to be implemented in your institution, in order to keep your communication efforts in line with Green Campus goals and activities. You can follow these five steps to get started:

  1. Set objectives for communication: This will be the foundational pillar of your Communication Plan. A well-defined set of goals will help you create a clear path of action, both to perform communication and dissemination activities and to evaluate performance of the strategy, identify shortcomings and make any necessary modifications. 
  2. Define your target: in order to prepare a Communication Plan, it is necessary to identify who the are going to be recipients of these communications. Universities have a broad spectrum of stakeholders with different profiles, priorities and preferences. Hence, it is key to identify who are the primary targets in order to know how to effectively communicate with each of them.
  3. Define your key messages: Green Campus is about sustainable, healthy lifestyles in campus. Depending on your unique Green Campus initiative, you have a focus on different aspects of sustainability and health. Identify these topics and the key messages that you want to transmit to your audience with regard to them. This will help you keep communication efforts consistent.
  4. Select your communication channels: there are plenty communication channels available for an institution, and each of them has different characteristics and reach, and may be more attractive or successful in connecting with different target audiences. To select your communication channels, it is necessary to have your target audiences in mind, since these will be the tools that you will use to reach them.

Think about measuring: like any strategy to be implemented, a communication plan needs a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to be measured, in order to be able to track your work and making any necessary tweaks on the plan. KPIs should also be in line with your objectives.

Note: You should consider sustainability inside your communications plan as well, in order to mainstream sustainability throughout all Green Campus processes. In point 1.2 of this module, you will learn some tips and good practices to make your communication efforts greener.

Setting your objectives

In order to set your objectives, start by reflecting on your Green Campus strategy. Think about the activities you are planning to carry out and how communication can help to implement them successfully and reach out to a higher number of people that can benefit from it. Your communication objectives will be determined by that.

Try to answer these questions:

  • What? 
  • Why? 
  • Where?
  • When?
  • How?

Try to make your goals S.M.A.R.T.: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-bound.

Identifying target audiences

Who will you be reaching out to? Who do you want to impact with your Green Campus efforts, and who are the main beneficiaries of it?

Higher Education Institutions have a broad range of stakeholders: professors, researchers, students of different ages, university staff in different positions, their families and friends, other Higher Education Institutions as well as other educational institutions who may be in close contact with them (high schools, VET centres), private companies as partners/collaborators or providers, investors, public institutions, neighbouring communities living near campus…. Identified stakeholders will be specific for your institution as it has to take into account the specific network and local context present.

To start, try to make a list of all stakeholders that will be affected by your Green Campus strategy and that you want to engage with. This will help you in the process of identification. Ask yourself: Who will be affected by these actions? Who will become users or beneficiaries? Who do we want to engage? Who could be interested in collaborating, or who do we want to collaborate with?

Once you have identified a fair number of stakeholders and potential targets, it is time to narrow your scope. First step for that is to group your stakeholders. You can use different criteria for that, but to start with, you can group them following these categories:

  • Primary targets: these will be the main targets of your communications. These are usually in line with the main beneficiaries or users of your Green Campus initiatives. Communication efforts will focus on raising awareness and keeping them informed about the development of new activities that they can engage with. Imagine your Green Campus strategy implies creating cyclable paths around campus: students and professors, for example, would be primary targets for communication.
  • Secondary targets: these will be a group of stakeholders that are also involved in the development of Green Campus but may not be directly addressed as beneficiaries of the activities, although affected by them. Following the previous example, neighbouring communities can be an example of a secondary target, since they would benefit from having cyclable paths nearby and are potential users.
  • Tertiary targets: these will be a broader group of stakeholders that can benefit from obtaining information on your Green Campus initiatives. Other universities, for example, may be inspired to create a cyclable path after learning about your initiative.

Different stakeholders can be placed in different levels of this pyramid, according to the actions and objectives your Green Campus strategy. However, this method will help you determine what should be the main targets for your communication efforts, which will determine the channels you select, what your primary messages will be and how they will be conveyed to reach these target groups and gather their interest.

If you want to go a step further, you can carry out a stakeholder analysis. According to Forbes Advisor, stakeholder analysis is “a project management tool used to identify the project’s stakeholders, issues they care about and how they will be impacted by the project” (Bottorff and Hoory, 2023). This is an in-depth analysis into your stakeholder’s profiles, situation, potential feelings about Green Campus and preferences, which will help you determine how to communicate with them.

Video 2. How to build a key stakeholder map by Lauren Kress.

Define your key messages

Once you have identified your objectives and targets, it is time to define what are the key messages to be communicated.

You can start by making a brainstorming exercise: write down the words that come to your mind when you think about your Green Campus strategy.

Your key message or messages will define the ‘what’ that will be shared. It is the piece of the puzzle that determines the content of your publication, the tone, the vocabulary to be used… Key messages should be concise and compelling, but simple, and they should be tailored to correspond to your objectives and call to the attention of your targets.

Think about the values that you want to pass down through your communication strategy, and what can be attractive ways to engage your audience in listening to them. Think about the story you want to tell your audience, and about what they are interested in hearing about: is it facts and figures? Opportunities for action? Emotional stories?

Once you have determined your key messages, you can go to the next step.

Selecting the communication channels

Once you have identified your stakeholders and your key messages, the next step would be to select your communication channels.  There are different means of communication that are more suitable to reach out to different types of stakeholders, due to their preferences and possibilities. Selecting appropriate channels will make a difference in determining whether you do or do not reach out to your desired audience.

For the sake of simplicity, we will divide them into offline and online channels for communication.

Online Channels

Online channels are those that transmit information by using the internet. Online channels have wide reach, given that they can be accessed from anywhere and are most often free of use, which facilitates dissemination. In today’s world, having an internet presence is key for any institution to make itself known, and hence, online channels can be used to contact a multitude of stakeholders of different profiles.  Furthermore, by relying on online channels, you will avoid printing and other methods that generate waste.

Here are some examples of online channels:

Websites allow you to publish lots of information for anyone to find. When someone is searching for information on a specific institution, they will try to go to their website. Using the university institutional website and creating a page dedicated to Green Campus can facilitate the spread of information on your initiatives.Websites allow you to share all kinds of information: blog posts and news articles, multimedia… and they can also be a space for interaction, through incorporating comment sections, surveys and forms.
Social media
There are multitude of options when it comes to social media, each of them with different formats and functions, and hence a different purpose. Twitter (now X), Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn, YouTube…Social media presence can help you reach out to younger target groups by creating interactive, attractive content that appeals to them. Different social media have different user profiles, so you will need to have your targets in mind when selecting which social media channels to use for your communication.
Newsletters remain one of the most useful formats to communicate to your audience. An online newsletter is usually sent via e-mail, and it effectively serves the function to keep subscribers informed on the activities you are carrying out. Anyone can subscribe to your newsletter which facilitates the spread of information. They can be useful to announce your Green Campus events, for example.
Podcasts are an increasingly popular form of communication. They are easy to access, as they can listen through a multitude of platforms, including YouTube, and many of them are available for free. Plus, they are a multi-task friendly medium, since they can be listened to while doing other activities, and they provide a space for information, interaction and conversation.

Offline Channels

Offline channels are those mediums of communication that do not make use of the internet. These are what we consider traditional media channels, such as newspapers, radio, television… and also, other formats of communication such as posters and flyers, events, and word of mouth or ‘viva voce’.

Press releases / articles
Newspaper articles or press releases published in traditional media have an important reach. Particularly, they are helpful to get your message through the local community, calling attention to your initiatives. It can be a good medium to spread knowledge an information among the general public and other institutions.Although traditionally an offline channel, most newspapers also have an online version now, which expands their reach further.
Radio holds a similarity to podcasts, with the fundamental difference that podcasts are hosted online and can often by accessed at any moment, while traditional radio is often streamed life. However, same as newspapers, radio channels are now accessible online, and are uploading their content to be listened to anytime. Many High Education Institutions have their own radio, often run by students or with their collaboration. This can suppose an opportunity to spread your environmental messages and engaging stakeholders on the promotion of Green Campus initiatives.
Television remains one of the main media for communication in our time. Similar to press, TV presence can help raise awareness of your Green Campus initiative among the wider public at different levels (local, regional, national), raising awareness of the need for healthy and green university campuses and inspiring other institutions to promote similar measures.
Posters and flyers
Printed posters and flyers are a very common means to promote initiatives and events. Posters can be put up in many places, and particularly on campus, students and professors can see different posters and flyers daily on the message boards and walls of different buildings. Both posters and flyers can be effective means of spreading information to the hundreds of people that move throughout a campus every day. 
Word of mouth
Word of mouth continues to be one if not the most effective form of communication. It is not a channel that can be directly controlled for an institution-wide communication plan, however, encouraging word of mouth can help spread your message even further by facilitating stakeholder’s engagement with your official channels and your initiatives.