Conagra Brands senior director of sustainability Katya Hantel talks with Doug Simon about how brands can “turn science into something meaningful for the audience” in the latest “PR’s Top Pros Talk” video interview.

“We've got to spend a lot of time acting as translators and really taking what scientific data has quantified and turning it into a story that the average consumer can understand,” Hantel says.

For example, by using a tool called the EPA Greenhouse Gas Calculator, communicators can translate “ninety thousand tons of carbon emissions” into “more than two hundred and twenty million miles in a car,” which gets the message across much more effectively.

Hantel tells Simon that sustainability is no longer simply a corporate social responsibility concern—it’s also a business imperative. “When we talk about sustainability, we put it in the frame of driving growth or managing risk,” she says.

Sustainability also relates to a product’s effect on consumers as well as on the environment. “Our environmental sustainability team closely collaborates with our nutrition team on a platform within our R&D organization called Sustainable Nutrition.”

She stresses the importance of such channels as social media, and says that Conagra also relies on “third party nonprofits who are great communicators to help promote our story and give it authenticity that makes it meaningful for consumers.”

With over a hundred brands in its portfolio, Conagra has to be able to pinpoint which of those brands are most suited to the sustainability message. “You have to think about your audience," Hantel tells Simon. “Pick and choose where you're the most positioned to tell a strong story and focus there.”

Millennials play a big role in driving the sustainability story, Hantel says. “Millennials are the largest generation in the workforce in the US and what that has done on the sustainability side, it has brought that generational passion into the workplace.”

To capitalize on that passion, she says that communicators need to “understand that sustainability is everywhere. Anywhere a company is saving money, reducing material volumes, even volunteering.”

She also says that telling the sustainability story is not an overwhelming task. “It's not a daunting story to tell,” she says. “There's a lot of business opportunity and there's a lot of made messages you probably have to work with if they're framed the right way.”

View all of the interviews in the “PR's Top Pros Talk” series. Subscribe to get notified when new episodes are available.

Interested in taking part? Contact Doug Simon at dougs@dssimonmedia.com

D S Simon Media helps clients get their stories on television through satellite media tours and by producing and distributing content to the media. The company also produces live social media events.