Prowly #PRChat with Gihan Hyde, CEO & Founder of CommUnique

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It doesn’t matter what the clock says – it’s Prowly #PRChat time right now!

Gihan Hyde always knows what time it is in the world of PR. Through her own consultancy, CommUnique, she applies her two decades of experience in her quest to help companies improve their Environmental, Social and Governance credentials in a rapidly changing world.

She specializes in helping organizations modify their communications strategies in a way that makes it “relevant, accessible, engaging, and consistent for all stakeholders.”

We knew that someone with as much hands-on, high-level experience as Gihan would have lots of insights to share and that’s why we reached out with a few questions. Here’s what she had to say.

What does ESG stand for?

ESG stands for environmental, social, and governance. It is mainly used as a framework for investors to assess the risks associated with investing in a company. However, both knowingly and unknowingly, governments, NGOs, and even customers and employees are also increasingly focusing on ESG factors as they judge how well a business performs. As the world continues to become more environmentally and socially conscious, and greater scrutiny is placed on how businesses govern themselves internally, the importance of showcasing strong ESG credentials has never been more important for any business to succeed:

E: Treat the environment with respect.

S: Be socially responsible.

G: Govern transparently, ethically, and diversely.

Could you tell us a bit more about your work at CommUnique? 

We are an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) consultancy. We guide our clients through their new reality by offering two services — 1) Embedding ESG within client business models and 2) helping them share and communicate their ESG successes with their audiences. Our campaigns have impacted over 150,000 employees, 200,000 customers, and closed over £300m in investment deals. We are B.Corp Certified, making us the first black, Arab female founded business in the world to get this certification. This certification means that we are one of the top 500 organisations that are considered the most impactful and sustainable businesses in the world.

What was the most successful ESG campaign you have run? 

One of our clients is SUEZ, the UK’s largest waste management company. Suez is currently updating its ESG strategy, which they first launched in September 2020. Working with the Chief Communication Officer we were tasked to audit the messages communicated in their ESG strategy and ensure that the new ESG Communication strategy & plan did not have gaps, resulting in “Greenwashing” claims that could affect SUEZ’s reputation. And the result was the fact that the new ESG Communication messages were hailed as simple to understand and clearly articulated what role each employee plays in bringing ESG efforts to life.

What’s a recent thing you tried in your company that you were surprised by the result of?

When founding CommUnique I always knew that I wanted to have an impact on society but I didn’t know where to start or how to cement this ethos within the business model and this is when we decided to start our B.Corp certification, which will force us to reshape our business model and have all the policies and procedures we need to become an impactful business. After answering and providing proof for 170 questions during a yearlong process, we are now a fully certified B.Corp company, making us the first Arab, Black Female founded business to be certified globally.  I was surprised by how many gaps we had in our business model before the certification process.

What is the most gratifying part of your job?

My team is mainly from underdeveloped countries and underrepresented communities and my role as the founder of CommUnique is to mentor, train and coach them so they are ready to deliver our services with me. Seeing them thrive and hearing the wonderful feedback from our clients on our services is what helps me wake up in the morning with a smile.

What’s one successful PR tactic you are using at the moment?

To cement our image as the thought leaders in ESG Communication, we started looking at content and treating it as our key PR tool. The way we operate our content is almost as if we are a media company and this has proven to be a successful tactic.

What skills do you think PRs need to be successful long-term?

For PR communicators to really thrive and make a difference in a company they need to shift their mindset and be able to think like a founder or a CEO. This means they need to read a financial sheet, understand how a business model is formulated, be able to translate raw data into opportunities that will help them make informed decisions resulting in business growth. They also need to constantly be asking themselves “How does this activity relate to our strategic growth?”

I am seeing a shift from PR departments working in isolation to now joining forces with marketing and internal communication. This not only means that their campaigns are more human-centric and authentic but also data driven as they are utilising the data and insights that marketing and internal communication have in designing campaigns that result in shifting mindsets and generating audience loyalty.