Build Your Business Credit Report, Brand

DUNS Number Can Help, Hurt Business

Businesses of all sizes spend billions of dollars every year to build their brands and bottom lines. Meanwhile, millions of these businesses are oblivious to their business credit report at Dun & Bradstreet, which can deprive them of important opportunities.

Lenders, vendors, insurance companies and prospective clients often check these credit reports as part of their due diligence. They use the reports from Dun & Bradstreet to investigate companies that they are thinking about doing business with. They use these credit reports for both credibility and creditworthiness. These companies and government agencies go to Dun & Bradstreet to make sure that your company is legitimate, viable, stable, reliable and big enough to handle the job. In fact, your business can’t apply for government contracts and grants without a DUNS number (business credit report).

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Unfortunately, many small- and medium-sized businesses fail to create and manage their business credit reports, which can impact their brands and bottom lines in many ways. Such failures speak volumes about a business, while adding to the challenges in the marketplace.

Dun & Bradstreet has been the global leader in commercial credit reporting for more than 170 years. It holds credit reports for millions of companies around the world. If your company doesn’t have a credit report on file, you can apply for a DUNS number for free. D&B will host that file for the life of your business at no charge. The key is to make sure that your credit file is as accurate as possible and as influential as possible. This can help you separate your personal credit from your business credit, which will protect your FICO score and build your D&B scores and ratings.

Once your file has enough data, Dun & Bradstreet will generate scores and ratings for your business on nine different levels that measure the financial strength of your company. An organization’s business credit file is a collection of scores and ratings that allude to an organization’s ability to make good on contractual obligations. For example, the PayDex score indicates the timeliness that your company pays it bills.These scores and ratings can help or hurt a business in numerous ways:

  • a business can use these metrics when deciding to contract with a supplier;
  • a bank can use the information in a credit report when deciding to offer a loan; 
  • an insurance company might use your business credit report to decide whether or not to issue an insurance policy to your company and when calculating your premium; and
  • business owners can use the scores themselves in an attempt to improve their credibility.

Other businesses may be using your DUNS number to make critical decisions that could help or possibly hinder your business. Proactively managing your credit report pays dividends in many ways.

D&B can help you beef up your credit report, while helping you keep a sharp eye on the creditworthiness of others. The key to generating strong scores and ratings is to build in as much positive payment history as possible (operating expenses). Operating expenses are proof that your business pays its bills in full and on time. It requires a paid service from Dun & Bradstreet to build in your positive payment history because D&B will put boots on the ground to verify your trade references and to manually build them into your credit report. It’s an investment that will pay dividends for many years to come. Credit-building is an important part of due diligence, risk management and reputation management.

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Crossbow Communications is an international marketing and public affairs firm. We can help you influence public opinion, public policy and business decisions around the globe. We can help build your brand, your bottom line and a better world. Our headquarters are in Denver, Colorado. We’re opening a new office in Phoenix, Arizona.

Public Affairs Strategy

Modern Strategists Blend Government Relations, Public Relations and Marketing

Public affairs is another term for stakeholder relations among individuals and groups with common and competing agendas. It’s typically found at the crossroads of public opinion and public policy. Stakeholders often include politicians, civil servants, influencers, customers, communities, clients, shareholders, trade associations, think tanks, business groups, charities, unions, the media and more.

Public affairs practitioners engage stakeholders to educate, motivate and deescalate. It’s essentially a specialized form of marketing, where the product is an outcome that usually impacts people, planet and profits. Public affairs professionals help shape the debate with strategy and messaging. Not all lobbyists are registered. Most work behind the scenes with research, strategy, writing and coalition-building.

government corruption

Public affairs work combines government relations, media relations, issue management, stakeholder relations, corporate and social responsibility, and strategic communications advice. Practitioners aim to influence public opinion and public policy by building on common ground with stakeholders. Unfortunately, propaganda and misinformation has long been part of the equation.

Political chaos is the norm and public affairs professionals must anticipate, plan and respond without missing a beat. Strategists are reevaluating the best practices of opportunism and risk management.

While stocks soar, trust in corporate America and elected officials in Washington, D.C., continues to drop. America’s discontent with politics and business is not party-specific. A new survey conducted by the Public Affairs Council, in conjunction with Morning Consult, finds that Clinton and Trump voters have more in common than you might think: neither group trusts Washington politicians nor America’s CEOs.

The online survey polled 2,201 adults on their attitudes and expectations for major companies and elected officials. The surprising findings show bipartisan agreement on sentiment.

● Clinton and Trump voters agree that Washington can’t be trusted. 58 percent of Trump voters, 59 percent of Clinton voters and 63 percent of conservatives say elected officials in Washington have low honesty and ethical standards, despite Republican control of Congress and the White House; and

● Only 47 percent of Americans trust major companies to behave ethically, and only nine percent of Trump voters and eight percent of Clinton voters give CEOs high scores for honesty.

“Businesses are worried about core issues like trade and tax reform, and they’re also jumping into public debates on immigration, racism, LGBT rights and climate change,” said Doug Pinkham, president of the Public Affairs Council. “But with all the political turmoil in Washington, their world feels riskier. Many firms are having a difficult time finding their footing at the intersection of business and modern American politics.”

According to the study, there’s a correlation between the most untrusted industries and perceived underregulation. When compared to other industries, technology companies are considered the most trustworthy and least in need of new regulations. Conversely, pharmaceutical and health insurance firms are considered the least trustworthy and the most under-regulated.

Read The Full Story About Public Affairs Today

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Crossbow is an award-winning and record-setting strategic communications firm that has influenced public opinion and public policy around the globe. We have worked with some of the most influential organizations, corporations and journalists in the world. We have offices in Denver and Phoenix.

Tips and Tools For Better Advocacy Campaigns

Public Opinion Can Shape Public Policy

Grassroots movements continue changing the world. It’s a dynamic that needs to gain momentum now more than ever. It’s up to citizens and nonprofit organizations to purge threats to democracy and people.

Colorado public school reform

Most nonprofit organizations could boost their impact with more aggressive advocacy campaigns. Much of the sector should shift from crisis response to problem prevention. They must build awareness, understanding and support from all stakeholder groups to build support for reform.

The power to share information and engage stakeholders has never been greater, but most organizations aren’t making the most of opportunities. These failures are costly. To help you avoid missed opportunities, here is a quick checklist of strategies and tactics that can help organize and optimize most campaigns.

Navajo protest uranium mines

Internal Communication 

All advocacy campaigns begin internally. Notify, educate, motivate and empower your support structure first. Members, customers, employees, allies and others will help you start the parade and they can serve as spokespeople, recruiters, donors, volunteers and more. They will play instrumental roles of disseminating information and opinions via social media. Segment out these groups as much as possible for tailored messages.

Advocacy and Lobbying

Lobbying is when an organization tries to influence the outcome for proposed legislation through communications with legislators and their staff. All lobbying is advocacy, but not all advocacy is lobbying. Nonprofits can hire lobbyists and use staff for lobbying, but it’s important to know the rules to protect your campaign and the policymakers from violating procedural rules.

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Legislator engagement and education can be different than lobbying, especially when the legislature is out of session. It’s important to build awareness, understanding and support for your issues outside of the legislative process. Be sure to target newly elected legislators, committee chairs, past allies, past foes and others who can hurt or help your cause. The pursuit of common ground can yield important alliances and neutralize the most challenging adversaries.

Elected officials respond best to messages from people they know well and from the people they represent, their constituents. While your top level (grass tops) advocates are talking with many different elected officials, support those efforts with you front line (grassroots) supporters should be mobilized and directed to the elected officials that represent their districts.

VA hospital scandal

Public Opinion

Public opinion still influences most public policy, but the battle for the hearts and minds of citizens, communities and leaders is fierce. Plus, people are being bombarded with issues at an accelerating rate, so gaining attention and keeping audiences engaged long enough to act is part of the challenge.

Every issue is different, which means that every public relations campaign is different. However, the assessment and planning process is fairly standard. The following checklist is a simple overview of our process at Crossbow.

Stakeholder Research and Segmentation. Start a list of all groups that share a stake in the issue and the outcome. Build and buy lists with current contact information. Make sure that you can segment that list based on a variety of factors to help you send custom messages to each group as appropriate. Learn as much as possible about each group and each contact.

Competitive Research. Who stands in your way and why? What can you do to overcome their objections? What can be done to neutralize their voice?

Identify & Recruit Existing Allies. Recruit the strongest supporters first. Use that momentum to keep recruiting other key individuals and organizations.

Coalition Development. Do you form a coalition or just have supporters, members and endorsements to represent your position? Coalitions can help the movement position itself and the adversary in a strategic light. The coalition name can serve as a statement itself. A coalition also can help deflect attention away from individual supporters or allies.

Campaign Strategy and Plan. establish a clear and measurable goal. Draw up the action plan that can reach that goal. Include a timeline and budget.

Message Development. Who needs to hear what? Can we segment our lists/mediums and customize messages accordingly? What are the top three points that we must convey? What objections must be overcome? What action do we want people to make?

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Community Engagement and Education. Who are the major stakeholder groups? Who are the local leaders and influencers? What are their goals and concerns?

Community engagement can broaden understanding of the issues and increase people’s willingness to give their time and money to support your cause. It also can activate clients that directly benefit from nonprofit services.

Channel Development and Management. Build your audiences and networks on social media. Build your email lists. Encourage people to subscribe to your RSS feed.

Earned Media. Earning media coverage is one of the most powerful tactics available.It’s credible, it’s influential and it can become viral. Pitch journalists and reporters to write features. Send out media releases to consumer and trade mediums. Offer expert lists and media kits, fact sheets, b-roll, photos and other resources necessary to tell the story from your perspective. Write letters to the editor and comment online in response to related news coverage. Use these opportunities to expand the conversation or focus it as appropriate.

Social Media. Have your advocates create and share videos telling why your issue is important to them. Upload it to YouTube, share it on social media, and embed it in your landing page or website. The organization’s leaders can do this as well for educational purposes. Start off by using social media to educate and expand your networks. As a bill moves through the legislature, for example, your social media should move from educating and organizing to mobilization with specific calls to action. Remind people to share and spread the message to friends and their networks.

Develop Spokespeople. Who are the most influential people in your organization and coalition? Recruit them to serve as official spokespeople. Train different leaders to help you reach specific target markets. Train them to deliver the key messages concisely. Empower them with tools that can help maximize their reach and their impact.

Develop Volunteers. Grassroots campaigns depend on volunteers. They can help with logistics, events, fundraising, social media and so much more.

Petitions. Some petitions are actionable and some are purely symbolic statements. Seek more than signatures during these outreach efforts. Make the action step easy to find and appealing to take. Keep these supporters informed and engaged.

Events and Rallies. Events can help accomplish many objectives. Use them to help build awareness, understanding and support for your cause. Use them to feature your most influential supporters. Use them to recruit new supporters and engage existing ones. Use them to educate citizens, the media and stakeholders at large. Use them to position your supporters as leaders and your opponents as losers. Use them to raise money and generate online buzz.

Web Strategy. Maximize your online visibility and influence. Have an online portal (a microsite specific to the cause) and drive traffic there for more information and engagement. Maximize search engine optimization to help stakeholders and media find you.

Ongoing Email and CRM. Keep stakeholders and supporters informed and engaged. Aggregate all the actions that have happened on your legislative landing page and email it directly to legislators prior to their vote. Send it also to your supporters and let them know that you have sent their actions on to their legislators.  Everyone wants to know the results of their actions and stay informed.

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Good luck with your campaign. Please contact us for more firepower.

public relations firm and public affairs firm Denver and Phoenix

Crossbow is a full-service advertising agency and public relations firm in Denver, Colorado and Phoenix, Arizona. The firm specializes in issue management and public affairs, with an emphasis on healthcare and natural resources. Crossbow has helped influence public opinion and public policy around the world. Write to Gary Chandler for more information gary@crossbow1.com

Web Strategy Vital To Online Visibility

Digital Success Demands Strategy

Small advocacy organizations and large corporations alike should maximize their online profile and influence. Those who understand the art and science of blogging, social media, and search are much more productive than those who don’t. Those who are disciplined enough to put their plans in writing, stick to the plan, and stay on message are following branding best practices and positioning themselves as leaders in their industries. Those who don’t are flirting with disaster.

media relations and public relations

“We still encounter too many organizations of all sizes who think that a web presence is a web strategy,” said Gary Chandler, president of Crossbow Communications, a public relations firm in Phoenix, Arizona. “Web strategy is still one of the most neglected planning documents in corporations, SMEs and nonprofits alike. Even where they exist, web strategies are rarely implemented with optimum coordination and participation from the top level down to the customer and client levels. We all have room for improvement.”

The planning process should yield different results for every organization. Your web strategy outlines goals, budgets, and deadlines. It’s an obvious extension of your marketing plan. It determines how the business should position itself online, what messages to reinforce, what elements to borrow from the core brand and which ones to create specially for digital media. The web strategy defines what online channels to use, the tone, the messengers, what services and products to provide online, and what supporting infrastructure is required. It’s actionable and measurable.

Digital Planning Tips

  1. Audit Your Current Website Now To Establish Baseline Metrics. How many websites do you have? How much traffic is generated daily? Which pages and posts are the most popular? Where is the traffic coming from? How much time do visitors spend on the site and do they bounce to new pages or leave? Do visits convert to action? What are the traffic trends over the past two years?
  2. Audit Your Social Media Metrics. Do you have personal and corporate social accounts and pages on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn? How active are the accounts? How many followers, friends and connections? How often do you post? What do you post?
  3. Audit Your Competition. What are they doing right and what are they doing wrong? This is ongoing market research. Follow them on Twitter under an anonymous account.
  4. Establish Your Online Budget and Goals. Clearly define whether the outcome is sales, donations, votes, volunteers, etc.
  5. Verify Branding, Positioning and Messaging Strategy. The online strategy is a critical extension of overall marketing strategy. All leaders must demonstrate leadership online, including social media. Failure to do so is a critical branding and positioning mistake. You must defend your market share and mindshare like a leader in your industry.
  6. Personalize Your Site For Top Market Segments. As with all advertisements, clearly define your online prospects and speak to them. Do you have translation available? Targeting also includes the graphics, words, and functionality. If our target market is senior citizens, for example, it’s advisable to avoid small type (just like the old-school rule).
  7. Search Engine Optimization and Page Optimization. Make sure that prospective customers who are looking for your solutions can find you through generic searches on Google, Bing, Yahoo and other top search engines. It takes focus and commitment to get your business to come up on page one of search results for key words and phrases. If your website does not have a section for a blog, you are missing a critical opportunity to build your brand, relationships and heightened visibility. Adding a blog to your website can improve its rankings within search engines.
  8. Develop Social Goals, Strategy and Teams. Who says what, where and when? Social media takes consistent work and a dynamic web presence that involves top brass, employees and various stakeholders. Our goal is measured initially with reach, frequency, and relationships. Revenue is rarely the first step on social media. However, foolish mistakes can prove very costly.
  9. Measure, Analyze and Adjust. We built a baseline in step one. We tightened up the web strategy and turbocharged our social media tactics. What is working the best and what needs refinement? It’s critical to have analytics available to dissect your web activity daily. Where is the traffic coming from? What information brought them to the site–search, promotions, social media activity? Are we gaining connections and interactions on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social platforms? What posts are the most popular?

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Are you earning your share of the conversation on social media? Are you generating your share of prospects who are actively searching for a business or organization similar to yours? Can you gain even more traction online based on the above checklist? If so, we would like to help you raise your online profile and influence as part of an overall marketing and outreach strategy. We can help clients anywhere in the world. Please contact Gary Chandler gary@crossbow1.com

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Crossbow Communications is a full-service advertising agency and public relations firm based in Denver, Colorado. The company also has offices in Phoenix, Arizona and New York, New York. The firm specializes in issue management and public affairs.

The Private Battle Over Public Property, Democracy

Corrupt Public Servants Helping Corporations Pillage, Bankrupt Nations

Five years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its Citizens United v. FEC decision, which opened the door to corporate donations in federal elections. In a 5-to-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are people, with the same right to influence politics as voters.

Unfortunately, corporations can’t vote with a ballot, so they vote with cash, influence and obstruction, which blurs the lines of corruption and fascism. In many cases, the corruption eliminates competition, while promoting favoritism. Of course, such deceit undermines and erodes capitalism. It’s my perspective that any assault on democracy or free-market capitalism is terrorism, not citizenship.

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Meanwhile, many of these same neo-corporations have moved their headquarters to small tiny islands to avoid additional regulations and corporate taxes. They want access and influence, even subsidies, without any of those messy responsibilities associated with citizenship.

“We must achieve a free sort of election campaign, not financed,” the Pope told an Argentine magazine this week. “Because many interests come into play in financing of an election campaign and then they ask you to pay back. So, the election campaign should be independent from anyone who may finance it. Perhaps public financing would allow for me, the citizen, to know that I’m financing each candidate with a given amount of money.”

The Pope’s remarks come in the midst of corruption scandals in his native Argentina. Global advocates of campaign finance reform embraced his message.

“We have just gained a great new ally with a worldwide voice for public financing campaigns,” said Fred Wertheimer, founder of Democracy 21. “We greatly appreciate his words and wisdom on this subject.”

Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi endorsed the Pope’s “call for an end to the contaminating influence of money in our democracy.”

Shock doctrine and disaster capitalism

Compounding the problem is the fact that the assault on entitlements and public services in many countries goes unchecked as corporate welfare takes nations closer and closer to the verge of bankruptcy. Unfortunately, down is the new up in the world of neo-capitalism.

Crisis capitalism is nothing new. The United States helped pioneer this freak form of economics thanks to Milton Friedman and his disciples at the University of Chicago. Friedman’s handlers within the U.S. government found that with enough pain, people will turn over everything that they own, including their nation, to corporate pillagers. I urge you to explore this background for yourself in a must-read book, The Shock Doctrine, by Naomi Klein. Hopefully, you have read this powerful expose’. If not, it serves as a blueprint for the constant crises that dominate national agendas.

U.S. debt rising

As Klein reveals, the U.S. and corporate interests around the world have helped overthrow many functioning democracies with the use of debt. Shots are rarely fired. This philosophy is coming to a nation near you now. The chart above shows the U.S. debt as an example. If the U.S. defaults, the constitution could be suspended. A so-called bailout might emerge. It will look more like a looting of public and personal property. Take a look at some of the privatization taking place in Detroit as part of its bailout. In the U.S., the postal service and the VA hospitals also are prized takeovers. Look at any bailout of a public entity over the past 150 years and you will see that the pattern is time tested. Chile is a great example. There are many more. In the process, competition is not part of the process. The end game is to create unchecked monopolies around utilities, while pillaging pensions and other assets. I have no problem with privatization in many cases, but competition must remain part of the equation. Otherwise, it’s pure extortion.

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Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to give away public land and land-use permits for pennies to the right corporations. It subsidizes multiple industries. It’s gutting public schools and exploiting public lands for the benefit of private interests. It’s stalling progress on environmental protection and climate change for private profit. Make no mistake about it–the tail is wagging the dog. Citizens are being betrayed. Patriotism is being tested by all sides of the equation in every nation around the world right now. We all have a duty to tune in, stand up and speak out. Demand a return to citizen democracy.

public relations firm and public affairs firm Denver and Phoenix

Crossbow Communications is a full-service advertising agency and public relations firm in Denver, Colorado and Phoenix, Arizona. The firm specializes in issue management and public affairs.

Search Engine Optimization Is An Art, Science

Search-Engine Marketing Strategy

SEO matters more than ever. Would you like to capture more business from the Internet? Is your business highly ranked by Google, Bing, Yahoo! and other local business directories? If not, you are giving away eager customers to your competitors every day.

Don’t Miss Your Target. In the digital age, traditional advertising, direct mail, and public relations campaigns are not as cost-effective as a highly ranked listing on Google and other Local Search engines. The top five listings capture 90 percent of your prospective customers who are actively searching for help.

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With Search-Engine Marketing, we can build your bottom line in multiple ways:

  • Increase your market share with higher local search rankings.
  • Build your revenues with motivated new clients who are missing you today.
  • Stop wasting time and money on shotgun marketing tactics.

 Aim Higher & Earn More. Search for your business as a prospective, first-time customer searches for help. The map generated that pinpoints businesses and ranks them with a corresponding listing is Google+ Local (formerly Google Places). Until you’re ranked on that first page of search results, Google and other search engines are working against you—and working for your competitors who are listed on page one.

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Don’t Waste Another Day or Another Dollar. Crossbow recommends Search-Engine Marketing (SEM) for most businesses as a critical first step. SEM is extremely cost-effective and measurable. You can’t afford to miss the people who are actively searching the Internet for your help. Start your SEO campaign today.

public relations firm Denver and Phoenix

Crossbow Communications is a full-service advertising agency and public relations firm in Denver, Colorado and Phoenix, Arizona. The firm specializes in issue management and public affairs. Crossbow has helped influence public opinion and public policy around the world. It has won state and national awards, while setting state and national records for our clients. Government relations. Media relations. Stakeholder relations. Build your bottom line and a better world with Crossbow.

Online Commerce and Consulting Experts

SEO Strategists Tapped By International PR Firm

MentorNet, LLC has been hired by Crossbow Communications for additional in-house and client work. The online commerce and internet consulting pioneers are on a roll as they have added several new clients in multiple industries over the past year.

sustainable cities

“This is a great alliance for us,” said Rich Benvin, MentorNet president and CEO. “We have worked with Crossbow on several innovative projects that are blossoming now. We’re thrilled to formalize the relationship for the long term, especially as it relates to some of the company’s global sustainability projects.”

MentorNet also added several other clients this year, including ShaynaB Jewelry, ProWorld Tennis, BodyLogic Laser and Skin Solutions, Skin Care Plus, Double Diamond Group, Fiber Care Dallas, 3D Printing Channel, 3D Printing Ventures, Brandon Marinoff, Earth News, Sacred Seedlings, Greener Cities, Indonesian Travel Network, Alzheimer’s Network and more.

“We have shared values and visions with our clients, so that just adds to the synergy,” Benvin said. “We don’t work for clients that we don’t believe in and I’m not sure of any other business in this industry that can say that. Integrity matters more than ever.”

Crossbow is a global public affairs and issue management company that specializes in health, environment and sustainability issues.

For more information, please visit http://mentornet.com/marketing-strategist-says-traditional-news-still-matters/

public relations firm and public affairs firm Denver and Phoenix

Crossbow Communications is a full-service advertising agency and public relations firm in Denver, Colorado and Phoenix, Arizona. The firm specializes in issue management and public affairs. Crossbow has helped influence public opinion and public policy around the world. It has won state and national awards, while setting state and national records for our clients. Government relations. Media relations.

Public Relations Consultant Speaking Out For Sustainability

Climate Change, Biodiversity, Sustainability

The future isn’t what it used to be. That’s why Crossbow Communications is digging in to defend endangered species and an endangered planet. The lives of future generations are counting on more sustainable practices and policies.

Save Kilimanjaro

Chandler has spent most of his career defending the underdogs of the world–from abandoned kids to abandoned pets and endangered species.

Today, he’s putting most of his effort into sustainability issues, including climate change, deforestation, reforestation, wildlife poaching, sustainable cities and prion disease.

deforestation and endangered species

Chandler is a veteran communications strategist with more than 30 years of experience in marketing, public affairs and issue management. He is a record-setting marketing strategist and an award-winning public affairs professional. In his spare time, he writes books about sustainability, natural resources and wildlife conservation.

Gary R. Chandler

He is the author and co-author of 10 books, including Environmental Heroes and the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Prior to forming Crossbow in 1992, Chandler worked for Tracy-Locke/BBDO Advertising & Public Relations, the National Cattlemen’s Association and several public affairs and public relations firms in Denver, Colorado. He works from both Denver and Phoenix as necessary.

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Crossbow Communications is a full-service advertising agency and public relations firm in Denver, Colorado and Phoenix, Arizona. The firm specializes in issue management and public affairs. Crossbow has helped influence public opinion and public policy around the world. It has won state and national awards, while setting state and national records for our clients. Government relations. Media relations. Write gary@crossbow1.com

 

Resilience and Sustainability Network Launched For Cities

Sustainable Cities Can Help Fight Climate Change

To help address the impacts of cities on climate change and the impact of climate change on cities, we are developing the sustainability network to accelerate the movement of cities and communities toward efficiency and resiliency. With your help, this prestigious annual award will be the richest and most comprehensive awards program in the world for sustainability.

sustainable cities

In addition, the high-profile awards program will help drive the most comprehensive information portal in the world to promote sustainable cities, while helping them avoid roadblocks and pitfalls that waste time and scarce resources. Although there are some impressive award programs and information portals for sustainability, none has the breadth and depth that we envision to expedite the process and maximize the impact of the sustainable city movement.

As sustainability experts know, cities around the world are home to about 50 percent of the world’s population and they generate approximately 80 percent of our planet’s greenhouse gases – the primary human contributor to climate change. Meanwhile, many communities are managing the increasing threats of fires, droughts, floods, severe weather, population displacement, and others. Community leaders and citizens around the world must be informed, motivated and empowered to become part of the solution and to be more resilient in the process.

“Cities must take responsibility for our contributions to global climate change,” said former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

The Sustainability Challenge Facing Cities

Unfortunately, few local communities have the ability to engage their citizens in developing a common vision around this issue. Some need guidance on citizen engagement and a collaborative process to achieve consensus. Others need help outlining the entire spectrum of actions that they can take to cut pollution, save energy, conserve water and promote health and sustainability. Other communities around the world already are in contingency mode and need help mitigating the impacts of climate change on their homes and businesses.

Many community leaders need coaching to bring all stakeholder groups to the table to discuss opportunities, threats, resources, and priorities. As communities begin planning, they need comprehensive guidance regarding the full range of possible actions to consider in their plans. Many communities are limiting their sustainability visions to the energy efficiency of city buildings and vehicle fleets. They need to learn from other cities that have embraced a broader spectrum of possible actions such as investments, tax policies, water management, tree management, open space, expanded recycling efforts, and many others.

reforestation a climate change solution

Civic leaders need guidance and resources to engage all stakeholders. They need role models, case studies, networks, mentors, financial assistance, and incentives to help them exchange experiences and resources. These resources and processes can help minimize civic gridlock and promote rapid change.

The results of a recent survey conducted by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), the first of its kind, measures how and to what extent local governments are acting to promote sustainability. It indicates that most city leaders need help on many levels to develop successful sustainability plans.

“Sustainability has emerged as a major public policy issue facing countries throughout the world,” writes James H. Svara, Director of the Center for Urban Innovation and Professor in the School of Public Affairs. “Sustainability requires a broad range of actions that must include contributions from all levels of government, from all sectors of the economy, and from all of the citizenry. City and county governments are uniquely positioned to make a significant contribution to the effort. They are directly involved in providing or regulating many of the human activities that affect resource use, promote economic development, and affect the protection and inclusion of persons from all economic levels and racial and ethnic groups.”

Overall, the responses to the ICMA survey demonstrate two opposing tendencies:

  1. Most local governments are becoming active in sustainability, but most governments are involved at a relatively low level and most of the possible sustainability actions are not being widely utilized.
  2. Most governments lack goals, targets, or specific plans. Only a quarter of local governments have citizen committees and staff dedicated to sustainability, and only one in six has a separate budget to promote sustainability although local governments are spending money on specific actions.

Although the motivation for local action is on the rise, most communities still lack the direction and framework for quick and effective visioning and planning on sustainability. They need guidance to develop and undertake comprehensive and collaborative planning that can make a difference. Although the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement and other programs are taking steps in the right direction, they are limited in scope and fail to offer comprehensive guidance, including collaborative planning that specifically embraces citizen engagement and empowerment.

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Communities need a toolkit of resources and a template that can guide localized efforts to overcome possible political gridlock. Local leaders need the guidance and tools necessary to educate, inspire, and manage stakeholder input from all segments of their communities. They need to form a collective brain trust for communities around the globe. In addition, many civic leaders need funding to assist with planning and implementation. The Greener Cities program also can help facilitate funding for some initiatives through Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM) and carbon offsets to finance some of the projects.

“Where national governments can’t or won’t lead, cities will,” said former Toronto Mayor David Miller.

Please join us as a founder in this important program. We can’t do it without the brightest minds in the world. For more information, please visit http://greenercities.org/sustainable-cities-best-practices/

public relations firm and public affairs firm Denver and Phoenix

Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. It’s also promoting sustainable, resilient and livable cities. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com to join our network.