These days, pretty much every brand and ad agency is putting sustainability right at the heart of its communication goals.

And now it's becoming clearer that, in news media, they have an audience of consumers who feel the same way.

According to a new survey by Newsworks, 96% of news brand readers are now taking positive steps when it comes to the climate.

There are takeaways here for both marketers and media:

  • Almost six in 10 readers say they feel more favourable towards advertisers that have a sustainable ethos.
  • 56% also agreed that knowing a brand has a sustainable alternative could influence their purchase decision.
  • 70% say news brands should be using their platforms to educate and raise awareness about climate change.

The survey of 2,300 readers found people looking to news brands to find information on ways to help live sustainably, expecting news organisations to educate them and asking for advertisers to explain more about their sustainability activities.

That is great to hear, and chimes with research we have undertaken at News UK.

How to win at helping consumers live sustainably

In November 2022, a survey of audiences across our channels for between 49% and 58% had become even more engaged with sustainability and climate change topics in the previous 12 months - that was more than the 42% increase seen in a nationally representative panel.

Consumers were asking us to make them better informed when it comes to these issues.

As we noted at the time, how that happens is different for each medium, and each brand. The medium shapes the message.

The Sun launched Green Team, a campaign spotlighting profitable lifestyle changes, in 2020, and continues covering climate change and the environment, while The Times has carved out its Times Earth channel and launched its Clean It Up campaign.

But there is one big difference since that research was undertaken - the worsening state of the UK economy.

In Newsworks' survey, two thirds (62%) admitted that the cost-of-living crisis may force them to make cutbacks on sustainable products and services when shopping.

For brands and news publishers alike, the next challenge, when it comes to sustainability communication, is making clear that these two imperatives are not mutually exclusive - audiences can save money as well as help save the planet.