Sustainable Media 2012

Responsible operation and profitability are not conflicting goals. On the contrary, they are preconditions for each other: economically sustainable media needs to also be socially and ecologically sustainable, and vice versa.

Changes in media consumption and consumer behaviour create a need for renewal in the media sector. Alma Media’s response to these challenges is sustainable media that cultivates traditional journalistic values while integrating broader corporate responsibility in all operations. 

Over the past few years, Alma Media has made considerable efforts to develop the sustainable media perspective, both in its own operations and by introducing the theme in public discussion. Alma Media’s activity in this field places the Group in a strong position as a forerunner in corporate responsibility in the Nordic media industry.

Goals and achievements in 2012

The focal points of Sustainable Media in 2012 were:

  • environmental issues,
  • developing partnerships and
  • increasing internal awareness in the media company.

January 2012 saw the publication of a unique environmental study commissioned by Alma Media from VTT Technical Research Centre and the Swedish Centre for Sustainable Communications. The study was the first to offer valuable comparative information on the environmental impacts of print and online media. The study attracted a great deal of interest in Finland and abroad. In 2012, Alma Media communicated the results of the study in a variety of Finnish and international conferences. The study has provided a solid factual foundation for taking environmental issues into account in Alma Media’s new office building in Helsinki’s Töölönlahti district as well as the Group’s new printing facility in Tampere.

Another focal point was the formation of new strategic partnerships, for example in relation to responsible advertising and in the context of the Nordic Media CR Forum.

A third key activity was the Group’s internal Sustainable Media corporate responsibility tour, which visited four of Alma Media’s cities of operation in 2012 to communicate Sustainable Media themes to employees.

The Sustainable Media programme is implemented in Alma Media’s way of working and through the choices employees make on a daily basis. Alma Media’s corporate responsibility objectives are thus implemented by every employee, function and business unit in their daily operations and the communication of specific corporate responsibility goals is not always possible or even meaningful. Nevertheless, Alma Media has set certain specific corporate responsibility objectives to support responsible actions in daily work. In addition to the objectives described below, goals related to corporate responsibility are also described in the sections on the environment and employees.

Awards and recognition in 2012

View spreadsheet – Goals and measures

Employees

Best of 2012:

  • Improved conditions for cooperation and the sharing of know-how:
    • Alma Media employees in Helsinki now under one roof in Töölönlahti
    • Regional newspapers reorganised into Alma Regional Media
  • Employee well-being and participation as a starting point in the design of the office building in Töölönlahti
  • Employees familiarised with corporate responsibility on the Sustainable Media tour
  • Training, organisational renewal and acquisitions in response to the changing competence needs brought about by the digital age
  • Increasing employee diversity in Alma Manu and as a result of international acquisitions

At the end of 2012, Alma Media employees in Helsinki moved under one roof for the first time as the Group’s new office building was completed in Töölönlahti. Employees were actively involved in the design of the building from the start: in addition to participating in unit-specific working groups, employees had the opportunity to influence their new working environment through an idea team, the Helmi system for employee suggestions and initiatives, pilot projects and voting on various issues. The shared office building will contribute to progress on a variety of matters that are central to the development of corporate responsibility and operations, such as the sharing of know-how, employee well-being and cooperation across organisational boundaries.

Targeted at employees, the Sustainable Media corporate responsibility tour introduced themes related to responsibility to Alma Media employees in Helsinki, Tampere, Pori and Rovaniemi. The special themes of the tour were the Group-wide Code of Conduct, the environmental study examining print and online media and the Responsible Summer Job 2012 campaign that Alma Media organised in partnership with the Finnish Children and Youth Foundation

International acquisitions, organisational restructuring and recruitment for digital business operations brought new competence to Alma Media and improved the Group’s capacity for sharing know-how. The proportion of Alma Media employees working on digital services and the share of employees stationed outside Finland both increased considerably in 2012. At the end of 2012, Alma Media employed a total of 2,851employees in nearly 50 locations in Finland and in eight other European countries.

Occupational health and safety

Alma Media paid particular attention to occupational health in the design of its new office building in Töölönlahti. The many health-related aspects of the working environment that were taken into consideration include indoor air quality, ergonomic workstations and lighting. Employees are encouraged to stay physically active by the provision of loan bicycles, and the menu of the office building’s cafeteria promotes healthy eating. Occupational health was also a prominent element at other Alma Media offices in 2012. For example, Alma Manu developed a senior employees programme to be implemented starting in 2013. The programme is aimed at improving the occupational health of long-term employees and extending their careers.

The number of occupational accidents declined in 2012. The majority of occupational accidents and accidents during work-related travel at Alma Media occur in distribution operations, as they are affected by weather conditions. Training for delivery personnel in 2012 focused on the theme of occupational safety, such as appropriate clothing and anti-slip solutions.The occupational safety of delivery personnel will be a key focal point of distribution operations in the future. A two-year plan for safety improvement will be drafted in early 2013. The goal is to halve the number of accidents in distribution and delivery operations over the two years while creating a foundation for continued development work. Occupational safety and employee well-being have been given a great deal of consideration in the design of Alma Media’s new printing facility in Tampere, which will begin operations in 2013. The aim is to minimise accidents during printing and distribution.

Developing competence

The digitalisation of the media field brings with it new competence needs and highlights the importance of continuously developing employee expertise. Alma Media has improved its capacity for the sharing of know-how through training as well as by carrying out extensive organisational restructuring. In the new organisation, collaboration across former organisational boundaries is seen as a starting point. The Group has also added new competence through international acquisitions, including many in the field of digital recruitment services, and through recruiting new employees for the Alma Diverso business unit focused on digital development. The shared workspace in Töölönlahti provides a natural setting for bringing different skills together and enabling effective teamwork.

The Joker development programme launched in 2011, aimed at coaching selected employees for more demanding positions and taking advantage of their expertise in various business development undertakings, produced its first completed development projects in 2012. In total, Alma Media organised over 1,000 days worth of training for its employees in 2012. In addition to open training days organised by the company, employees complemented their professional development through training provided by external partners. Training provided by external training providers is not included in the reported figure for total training days.

Equality and non-discrimination

Alma Media's equality plans include practical and detailed objectives, actions, schedules, responsible persons and metrics such as the equality index, which is measured once every two years. The equality index based on the most recent measurement in 2011 was 52.8 (compared to 54.9 and 55.2 in previous years).

Although the differences in salaries between men and women at Alma Media have been in line with the average Finnish pay structure, improving gender equality in pay has been highlighted as an important area of development for the Group. Gender equality in pay has been improved in almost all employee groups, partly by allocating company-specific portions of salary increases in a manner that promotes gender equality in pay. In 2012, gender equality in pay at Alma Media improved by several percentage points compared to the previous year in the categories of professional and managerial staff and clerical employees. Gender equality in pay for journalists and book employees declined slightly. For other employee groups, the situation remained unchanged from the previous year.

The proportion of women among supervisors and senior management increased in 2012. At the end of December 2012, 57% of those in managerial positions were men (2011: 61%) and 43% were women (39%). At present, senior management includes 31% (31%) women, the Group Executive Team 10% (10%) and the Board of Directors of the parent company 14% (14%). This structure is typical both in media companies and in other industries.

Diversity

Building the future of media requires a diverse group of Alma Media employees. The significance of employee diversity has increased in the ageing and increasingly international society. At Alma Media, distribution operations in particular offer employment opportunities for qualified candidates who have moved to Finland from abroad. For instance, in distribution operations in Pirkanmaa, immigrants represent 27% of all employees, which is five percentage points higher than in 2011. The Group’s printing and distribution unit Alma Manu is tackling the challenges and opportunities presented by employee diversity by drafting a multiculturalism strategy in 2013.

Alma Media has adopted the average retirement age as a metric for monitoring employee well-being and diversity as well as social responsibility. In 2012, the average retirement age was 63.2 years (2011: 63.4).

Employee diversity also increased substantially as a result of acquisitions carried out in 2012, with Alma Media purchasing a majority share in the leading digital recruitment services in the Czech Republic, Croatia and Slovakia. While this will present new management challenges in the coming years, it will also provide significant opportunities in the form of diverse expertise, new working practices and fresh perspectives.

Read more about employees.

Journalism and the readers

Best of 2012:

  • Alma Media was involved in assessing the social impacts of journalism through participation in the Nordic Media CR Forum and the GRI initiative
  • The operating conditions for local and national journalism were improved by a significant reorganisation of Alma Regional Media
  • The transparency of journalism was improved by Alma Media adopting the GRI Media Sector Supplement reporting framework, becoming the first Finnish media company to do so
  • Various reader groups, such as young people and senior citizens, were the target audiences of new development projects

Transparent and interactive media

The basic values of journalism and their impact on society became an increasingly prominent subject of public debate internationally in 2012. This was largely due to a number of much-publicised cases in the United Kingdom in which the ethics and transparency of journalism failed to meet the standards for responsible journalism. The public debate has strengthened Alma Media’s newspapers’ and websites’ commitment to open and transparent journalism based on active industry self-regulation as well as media outlets’ own ethical principles that involve stricter standards than the Guidelines for Journalists issued by the Finnish Union of Journalists.

Openness is the foundation of responsible journalism. Corporate responsibility reporting by media companies is one component of open journalism. In spring 2012, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) published a Media Sector Supplement as guidance for the media industry. Alma Media was actively involved in the creation of the guidelines by commenting on them during the drafting process and by participating in discussions on the matter at international forums such as World Responsible Economy Forum  and the Nordic Media CR Forum. The Media Sector Supplement provides the first international standard for reporting on a media company’s journalistic process.

A second focal point of development was analysing the “brainprint” of media, or the indirect effects of media contents. In 2013, Alma Media plans to participate in a Brainprint project organised by the UK-based Media CSR Forum, which will involve different media outlets assessing the social footprint of their content. The project will have a particular focus on the impacts of media content with regard to democracy and economically, socially, culturally and ecologically sustainable development.

Alma Regional Media implemented an extensive reorganisation and renewal of its operating model in 2012. One of the key objectives of the renewal process was to ensure the conditions for responsible and local journalism in the future as transformational changes in lifestyles and media create an entirely new operating environment  where the focus is on diverse content and sharing content across multiple channels.

Reliable media

Council for Mass Media (CMM) decisions, reader feedback, reader panels and requests for corrections are all metrics for reliability and responsible journalism. Alma Media papers discuss CMM decisions at the newspaper level, led by the Editor-in-Chief, and develop their operations accordingly.

In 2012 the Council for Mass Media issued a total of 85 decisions on matters such as corrections and surreptitious advertising. Of the 85 decisions, 27 pertained to Alma Media’s various media. Of the decisions pertaining to Alma Media, 30% were condemnatory, compared to the overall rate of 26% for CMM decisions in 2012. The total number of CMM decisions and the number of decisions pertaining to Alma Media newspapers both increased somewhat from 2011. 

More information

Environment

Best of 2012:

  • A unique study on the environmental impacts of print and online media was published
  • Alma Media’s new office building was completed in Helsinki and LEED environmental certification is currently being sought for the building
  • The company was among the first to join the City of Helsinki Climate Partners network
  • Environmental awareness was boosted by the Sustainable Media tour and environmental fact campaign
  • VOC emissions were reduced substantially
  • Cooperation projects with the Federation of the Finnish Media Industry, VTT Technical Research Centre and media customers, carried out to analyse and mitigate the environmental impacts of the industry as a whole

Environmental study

Alma Media aims to respond to the growing need for information among customers and other stakeholders on the environmental impacts of print and online media. In early 2012, Alma Media published a study commissioned from VTT Technical Research Centre and the Swedish Centre for Sustainable Communications to analyse the environmental impacts of Aamulehti, Iltalehti and Kauppalehti and their respective online services. The results of the study are described comprehensively on Alma Media's website.

Environmental responsibility in construction projects

The most significant environmental impacts of Alma Media’s and its business units’ operations are related to printing and distribution, properties (including the electricity consumption of computers and server rooms), purchasing (newsprint) and travel. Alma Media’s new Helsinki office in Töölönlahti, completed in December 2012, and the new printing facility in Tampere, set to begin operations in spring 2013, will reduce the Group’s direct enviromental impacts in the operations in which they are the highest. Environmental impacts during construction as well as use are minimised in both projects. Both the printing press and the office building in Töölönlahti have been constructed in compliance with the standards required for LEED environmental certification.

Environmental matters have been taken into consideration in many ways in designing the Töölönlahti office building and selecting its location, including the following:

  • Energy-efficient building technology
  • Underground parking with charging stations for electric cars
  • Waste management during construction and use, with extensive recycling
  • Excellent public transport links

Material and energy efficiency

Alma Media can best develop its environmental management by improving its material and energy efficiency. The company has sought information on opportunities for improving efficiency, for example through the extensive environmental study  published in 2012. The new printing facility in Tampere and office building in Helsinki significantly improve the energy efficiency of Alma Media's properties. For instance, the printing facility in Tampere will have a heat recovery system that captures 80% of exhaust air. The production efficiency of the new printing press will also be improved, with the energy consumption per one hour of production declining by over 15 per cent. The use of solvent-based detergents and water will also be lower.

As the quality of printing operations improves, fewer materials are wasted. Material loss is expected to be 30% lower with the new printing press, meeting a very high standard. Alma Media has managed to improve material efficiency at its existing printing facility in Tampere, with the maculature percentage* decreasing by 3% from 2007.  Another key aspect of material efficiency is the recovery of waste: almost all waste created by the printing facility is used as a raw material by another business. For instance, the Tampere printing facility produces as little as 100kg of disposable waste per year, which represents a mere 0.005 per mille of total material use.  The figure does not include mixed waste taken to landfill sites.

Alma Media achieved a substantial reduction in harmful VOC emissions (volatile organic compounds) from printing operations in 2012. The chemicals used for cleaning the printing press have been VOC-free for some time, but the company has now also minimised the VOC content of the dampening solution used in the printing process. Alma Media’s printing facility in Tampere is one of the first printing facilities internationally to begin using a dampening solution that is nearly free of VOCs.

* The maculature percentage expresses the proportion of waste material to total material used in printing operations

Supply chain and purchasing

Alma Media can also influence its environmental impact through its purchasing. At present, environmental considerations are particularly taken into account in newsprint purchases, as paper production has wide-ranging impacts on climate change and resource depletion as well as biodiversity.  In 2012, 72% of the newsprint used by Alma Media contained recycled fibre. The share of recycled fibre in all newsprint pulp used by Alma Media was 37 per cent. Environmental issues are also a key factor in purchasing chemicals and printing plates.

The Sustainable Media corporate responsibility programme includes the objective of integrating ecological considerations increasingly into ICT purchases.  The environmental study indicated that ICT equipment and infrastructure have significant environmental impacts. Careful analysis and mitigation of these impacts is of great importance due to the rapid growth of digital media consumption globally. In 2012, the integration of the responsibility perspective into ICT purchasing was not as successful as planned. As a result, Alma Media has highlighted responsibility in ICT purchasing as a special objective for the year 2013.

The average carbon dioxide emissions of the Group’s leased car fleet are also regularly monitored. The target is to reduce average emissions by 11% 2008 to 2014. In 2012, the average CO2 emissions of the Group's motor vehicles were 144g of CO2 equivalent per kilometre. This means that the CO2 reduction target was achieved in 2012, two years ahead of schedule.

* Carbon dioxide equivalent is a measure used to compare the total climate effect, or Global Warming Potential, of emissions from greenhouses gases produced by human activity. The carbon dioxide equivalent is calculated by converting the global warming potential of other greenhouse gases to that of carbon dioxide.

Increasing awareness

Increasing awareness of environmental issues among stakeholders is one of Alma Media’s most important ways of influencing its environmental impacts. In 2012, environmental themes were communicated internally on the Sustainable Media tour, which included environmental theme days at three of Alma Media’s cities of operation: Rovaniemi, Pori and Tampere. The company also organised custom training events on the results of the environmental study for media sales, delivery personnel, editorial offices and the Group’s corporate responsibility network.

In addition to its in-house measures, Alma Media is actively involved in industry-wide environmental initiatives such as the Shape study carried out by the Federation of the Finnish Media Industry and VTT Technical Research Centre, which investigates media consumption from the perspective of its environmental impacts. On the international stage, Alma Media took a prominent role in the discussion of the environmental impacts of print and digital media in 2012 by communicating the results of its environmental study in various forums in Germany, the United Kingdom and France. The study attracted a great deal of international interest and there are plans to make use of the findings in drafting standards in France and planning media campaigns in the United Kingdom and Finland. Read more about the impact of the study in the feature “Sustainable media through cooperation”.

Alma Media also received international recognition: the company was ranked as the runner-up among Nordic media companies in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)  , a global initiative on climate impacts, with a score that was improved from the previous year.

In 2012, Alma Media carried out a Sustainable Media environmental campaign for the second time. The goal of the campaign was to communicate the environmental impact of media to readers and inform them of how they can reduce the environmental effects of their own media consumption.

Alma Media was also among the first businesses to join the City of Helsinki Climate Partners network aimed at promoting cooperation to reduce climate emissions and boost the competitiveness of the participating companies. Alma Media also published its own climate covenant, with specific climate targets, in conjunction with joining the initiative.

Climate change mitigation targets

View spreadsheet – Climate change mitigation
View spreadsheet – Environmental key indicators

Read more about environment

Communities

Best of 2012:

  • Youth employment was promoted through the Responsible Summer Job 2012 campaign, which spanned 107 employers and some 30,000 summer jobs
  • Extensive organisational restructuring was carried out to improve the operating conditions for local journalism
  • Diversity was improved through the Seniors project and the provision of journalistic content in the Sami language
  • The multi-channel approach was developed in both traditional and new publication channels, for instance through participation in the Next Media project
View spreadsheet – Added value for society

Renewal and events in support of locality and communities

In order for media to support the well-being of its community, it must respond to the challenges of a changing world, maintain its own vitality and renew itself with the support of the local community. In 2012, Alma Media carried out an extensive organisational renewal with the aim of ensuring the vitality of local journalism in the future. The renewal saw Alma Media’s regional and local newspapers consolidated into the Alma Regional Media business unit, which increases editorial cooperation in national journalism and ensures strong resources for local news.

Also in 2012, Alma launched a discussion tour concerning issues related to the sustainable development of different regions. The “New North” forum organised in partnership with Lapin Kansa brought together regional decision-makers to discuss the challenges and opportunities of sustainable development that should be taken into consideration in Lapland in the future. Alma Media continued to highlight sustainability in the public dialogue in January 2013 by organising the Sustainable Business in the Arctic event in partnership with Finnish Business & Society at the new Alma Media office building in Töölönlahti. Alma Media plans to continue organising events and forums for discussing regional development in its other cities of operation in 2013.

Diversity and the multi-channel approach

The multi-channel approach is a key aspect of Alma Media's services. In 2012, the company invested in developing both traditional and new channels. To better serve print media consumers, the new printing facility in Tampere, scheduled to begin operations in early 2013, was planned with an eye to developing the printed newspaper. At the same time, the amount of content offered to users of tablet devices and smartphones grew substantially from the previous year.

Finland’s growing senior age group was the focal point of the Seniors project to develop media services for elderly users. Young people are also offered customised content, for instance during the annual Newspaper Week. Lapin Kansa has included supporting Finland's only indigenous population group, the Sami, in its agenda. The newspaper offers the Sami news that interests them in their own language.

Economic well-being through the Responsible Summer Job campaign

In addition to the direct and indirect impacts of its business operations, Alma Media supports economically and socially sustainable development through partnerships. One example of this is the youth employment campaign organised in partnership with the Finnish Children and Youth Foundation (FCYF), which was implemented for the second time in 2012. The Responsible Summer Job 2012 campaign challenged companies to create good summer jobs for young people. The goal of the campaign was to take an action-oriented approach to youth employment. A total of 107 employers joined the campaign to offer some 30,000 responsible jobs. The campaign will continue in 2013 with an aim to have 200 employers join in. A new objective for 2013 is to also provide summer job advice for young people.

Read more about communities

Products

Best of 2012:

  • Ecological advertising was developed in partnership with advertisers
  • The company participated in international dialogue on responsible advertising
  • Responsible media buying seminar organised for media customers
  • Responsible recruitment given increased emphasis in the operations of Monster.fi

Sustainably-produced media space

Alma Media's advertisers are increasingly interested in how Alma Media supports their communications on sustainable development through its own responsibility. Alma Media and its media have taken an active approach to responsibility in advertising. After the publication of the environmental study in early 2012, Alma Media launched a number of projects related to responsible advertising. One of the projects has the goal of determining the environmental impacts of the full advertising value chain in partnership with an international media customer. The project aims to provide new information on the ecological footprint of media and evoke international discussion on responsible advertising while making this perspective a natural component of marketing planning. The same theme is also highlighted domestically: In early 2012, Alma Media organised a "Responsible media buying" event to provide information to advertisers on the environmental impacts of media. The positive feedback received on the event, and the partnerships it led to, made responsible marketing and advertising one of the Group's focal points for 2013.

The sustainable media perspective in developing online services

One of Alma Media’s objectives for 2012 was to integrate the Sustainable Media perspective more closely into the development of online services. One example of this is the Monster.fi working life guide designed to support young people in seeking employment. As the number of Alma Media’s online recruitment services in Europe grew in 2012 through multiple acquisitions, a new objective is to integrate the responsible recruitment perspective into the newly acquired online services.

Also in 2012, Alma Media began developing a new online service focused on sustainable economy.  The aim is to launch the service in 2013.

Reliability of products and services

Reliability is the foundation of all operations. It is a common feature for Alma Media's various digital online services. The importance of reliability will only grow further as commerce moves to the online realm and fraud becomes increasingly frequent.

The use of customer registers specific to particular newspapers and services is governed by, among other regulations, the Personal Data Act and the Data Protection Act.  Customer data is protected through various measures. The server rooms for all online services have been protected so as to withstand physical and digital attacks. Maintaining a high level of service availability* helps ensure that the services offered are reliable and available to potential buyers or tenants: Etuovi.com, Vuokraovi.com and Autotalli.com, for instance, have nearly 100% availability.

The customer service communications of Alma Media’s online services have been analysed and all customer service employees have been provided with a personal development plan intended to improve the quality and reliability of the service experience further.

Read more about products.

* Service availability expresses the percentage of time a service is available to customers. Service availability is influenced by factors such as technical problems and system downtime due to maintenance operations.

Case

Sustainable media through cooperation

Cooperation is a precondition for sustainable development. In 2012, Alma Media built sustainable media through interaction with readers, media customers, employees, investors and other media companies. An environmental study commissioned by Alma Media to provide the first comparable data on the environmental impacts of print and online media attracted a great deal of interest both in Finland and internationally.

“As media begins to span across multiple channels, we need more information on the environmental impacts of digital media. The concrete and reliable information on the environmental impacts of online media obtained through Alma Media’s study has been useful for the entire industry,” commented Helene Juhola, Director of Development for the Federation of the Finnish Media Industry.

British media companies have engaged in systematic efforts for several years to build a sustainable future for the industry. As the emphasis in environmental matters has traditionally been on carbon footprint studies, Alma Media’s study has provided new information even for pioneers in sustainable development, such as Guardian News Media.

“Guardian News Media is planning to transform itself into a digital-first company, which means that the environmental impacts of our digital media will grow and must be managed as responsibly as our traditional newspapers. Alma’s environmental assessment of its digital media products and the Guardian’s digital carbon footprinting  provide great insight for our sector,” says Christopher Hodgson, Environment and Sustainability Manager for Guardian News Media. “However, because digital sustainability is an emerging science, individual media companies need to join forces to understand the best metric for digital sustainability as well as minimising it. This will mean finding smarter way to engage with our new digital supply chain and audiences.”

Alma Media has made use of the study to mitigate the environmental impacts of both its own operations and those of its readers and online users. A significant proportion of the Group’s environmental impacts stems from the buildings and their energy consumption. Environmental aspects were taken into consideration at every stage of planning Alma Media’s new head office, which is home to all of the Group’s Helsinki-based operations.  The company applied for LEED Gold certification for the building in 2012. The Group’s printing and distribution unit Alma Manu has made use of the study in designing its new printing facility.

“Knowing what aspects of our operations have the greatest environmental impacts gives us an excellent starting point for improving our environmental efficiency. We are now at the final stages of building a new printing facility in Tampere. The environmental study and the way we have incorporated it into our design process gives us added confidence that the printed newspaper will continue to play an important role in the sustainable media landscape of the future. We are applying for LEED environmental certification for the new printing press, which will make it one of the first – if not the first – printing facilities in the world to have such certification. We are also continuously improving the environmental aspects of our operations by boosting the energy and material efficiency of our production,” explains Jussi Pekkarinen, Alma Media’s Quality and Environment Manager.

In addition to the direct impacts of its operations, a media company has an indirect impact on society and the environment through the content it provides. The impact media content has on the behaviour and actions of its audience is known as its brainprint. Alma Media took up the brainprint challenge by launching an environmental fact campaign. The Group’s regional and local newspapers, as well as Kauppalehti, published a series of advertisements in 2012 to communicate the results of the environmental study and highlight the ways readers can reduce the environmental impacts of their media consumption, thereby contributing to building sustainable media.

The thoughts and actions evoked by the “Reading is an environmental act” campaign were surveyed by a reader panel. According to the results, approximately one half of the respondents found the advertisements interesting and positive. A substantial proportion of readers stated they had received useful new information from the advertisements. This was precisely the objective of the campaign: to offer readers environmental information, thereby promoting sustainable media consumption such as the recycling of printed newspapers and the energy-efficient browsing of websites.

“Being an avid reader, just the title of the advertisement alone made me think. The content of the advertisement was very useful. I intend to tell my grandchildren about the information I received regarding the environmental impacts of print and online media,” stated one 73-year-old female Aamulehti reader who took part in the panel.

Alma Media employees were informed of the study at the Sustainable Media Roadshow, which made stops in Helsinki, Tampere, Pori and Rovaniemi to present the results of the study along with other themes related to sustainable media. The environmental impacts of media interested employees not only in their roles as media consumers, but also because they recognise the growing interest their customers have in the subject.

“Making responsibility a competitive advantage of Alma Media motivates me as an employee. It is a natural continuation of the role newspapers have traditionally played in promoting wellbeing in their respective regions. I am delighted to see our company take a pioneering role in corporate responsibility,” enthuses Hanna Kivimaa, Marketing Director at Alma Regional Media. “Being part of the implementation of the environmental study was an eye-opening experience that taught us to look at everything we do in a new light. I am confident that our focus on investigating corporate responsibility issues and developing our business in a sustainable manner will be key success factors for Alma Media in the future.”

The study attracted a great deal of interest among Alma Media’s partners. In addition to a theme seminar related to responsible marketing and advertising, the study also led to deeper cooperation with the media company Aegis Group plc. The mutual objective of the project launched in late 2012 is to make consideration for environmental aspects a key component of the advertising purchasing process.

“We’re pleased that Alma Media has taken the first steps towards measuring and reporting the carbon footprint of media and media consumption. Their study makes for interesting reading and goes beyond the usual clichés to throw a refreshing look into the relative impacts of media consumption,” says Frank Krikhaar, Global CR Manager for Aegis Group plc. “As a result of the environmental study, we’re excited to be partnering with Alma Media to put the initial findings in practice. Measuring and reporting is a good first step, but we’re working together to take concrete action based on environmental information in the marketing value chain.”

The study led to cooperation not only with Alma Media’s customers, but also with suppliers and subcontractors. Investments in environmental matters made by printing plate manufacturer Agfa Graphics have helped Alma Manu reduce the environmental impact of its operations. The study provided the plate manufacturer with valuable information to support its environmental strategy and communications.

“It's about time to bring the consumer a balanced view on the environmental impact of printed and digital information, Only few people realise themselves for example that the digital data centres worldwide use 30 billion Watt of electricity, representing roughly an equivalent of 30 nuclear power plants, where of only 6 to 12% are used for computations, the remaining power being used by idle back up capacity. (article)
Pioneer LCA studies, as performed by Alma Media and VTT are important steps to create awareness and need all the support and follow up they can get,” stated Peter Verschave, Director Global Safety, Health & Environment, Agfa Graphics.

A common characteristic of the partnerships spurred by the research is the desire to build a sustainable future that includes both print and digital media. The habits of media consumers and the environmental impacts of media are now fairly well known. The next step is to combine these views to make sustainable media consumption a natural part of the daily life of consumers. The “Shaping Markets for Sustainability” project, launched under the leadership of VTT Technical Research Centre in early 2012, includes a media sector component focused on this challenge.

 “Alma Media’s study provides an excellent starting point for the project, as it allowed us to obtain an in-depth understanding of the environmental impacts of various media products and also provoked broad-based discussion on the subject,” points out Minna Nors, a VTT Researcher involved in the Shape/Media case study. “Consumption habits have a considerable influence on the ultimate impacts of a product or service. We have observed that there are clear differences between consumers with respect to their media habits and preferences. Communications on the subject should be credible and succinct, highlighting sustainable practices and choices in ways that apply to the daily life of different types of consumers. It is a challenging topic, but this project and our partnership with Alma Media will help us accumulate information and knowhow to support the entire industry,” Minna Nors explains.

In addition to cooperative projects and communications initiatives, the results of the study were used to reduce Alma Media’s own direct environmental impacts.

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