3 Questions to Frank Rothbarth, Chair of ISOPA’s Communication on “Communicating about chemicals: Lessons learned from communicating on polyurethanes”

Communicating the benefits of polyurethanes for society, and the environment is an ongoing opportunity for ISOPA, the voice of European manufacturers of diisocyanates and polyols. For this purpose, the association keeps close contact with various stakeholders and uses a variety of media communication channels to engage with its audiences.

What are the objectives of ISOPA’s communication strategy on polyurethane?

With Europe focusing on a sustainable future, polyurethanes – and isocyanates as their chemical precursors – have a critical role to play. In past decades, the polyurethane industry has developed numerous sustainable solutions, which contribute to combating climate change, protecting the world´s food supply, and improving our quality of life. Communicating these benefits is an ongoing opportunity for ISOPA to connect with society and decision makers. To this end, the association shares its voice though traditional and social media; from trade publications to Twitter.

Has ISOPA’s strategy changed over the years?

It’s always important for an organisation to stay relevant so that its messages resonate. With this in mind we strive to follow the political agenda and the conversations our audiences are having. Luckily polyurethanes have a great story and offer solutions to some of the most pressing challenges such as climate change, sustainable development, and the need for jobs and economic growth. For example, ISOPA is currently developing its position on circular economy, one of the top priorities on the EU agenda.

But we’re not alone in this. Our industry is part of broader value chains. Hence, overtime it has built up strong relationships with upstream and downstream associations in order to strengthen our voice.

How do you manage to bridge science and public perception?

Debunking chemophobia and explaining complex technical information in layman’s language are key for ISOPA. The choice of communication channels is therefore critical in that regard. ISOPA has been relying on its online presence and social media channels for quite some time, as they are the platforms of choice for the general public. The activities are supported by the use of infographics and videos, which facilitate the understanding of complex realities. By providing matter-of-fact information, the association aims at contributing to an objective discussion with different stakeholder groups.

Is there a project you have been particularly proud of in the past years?

We are particularly proud of our websites, www.polyurethanes.org and www.isopa.org, which provide important information on issues such as safety of polyurethanes. While www.polyurethanes.org presents the extent of  polyurethane applications to a broad audience, www.isopa.org as the official website of the association has been completely revised in 2015 and been adapted to its major user groups in the polyurethanes industry and the European authorities. www.isopa.org is now fully responsive and has a clear structure, for ease of use. From  sustainability to product stewardship, users can now easily find the information they are looking for.

What is the role of social media on communicating about chemical substances?

Social media have played a major role in ISOPA´s communications activities over the past years, and their importance is further increasing. Besides the blog and our YouTube channel, our association actively uses Twitter. Users can now also follow latest news and updates on our recently created ISOPA´s LinkedIn page.  The page will soon also serve as a platform to share regulatory information on diisocyanates and polyols.

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