Sustainability and Communication Consulting for Companies and Brands

"Sustainability is the precious metal of communication".​

Demanding to win, but of great value for the reputation. Our leading activity for many years. Communication that is and remains understood is the all-determining factor.

The solution is called crossrelations. We connect minds and ideas across all communication channels and boundaries.

How COVID-19 can become a catalyst for more sustainability

A Decalogue of Confidence

environmental protection is epidemic protection

Environmental protection is epidemic protection

A pandemic makes us all realize the far-reaching importance of protecting the environment and sustainability as the basis of life - also in pandemic precautions. The same factors have played a role both in the question of how SARS-CoV-2 originated and in the dynamics of its spread that are also critical in terms of sustainability. Be it the restriction of animal habitats by humans or globalized supply and mobility relationships that previously burdened the climate and have now also significantly accelerated the spread of the virus across the planet. Anyone in politics, business and society who is seriously interested in containing a pandemic risk for the future will only be able to achieve this if greater consideration is given to the sustainability goals of the United Nations (SDGs).

Advertising is looking
for a new language

Advertising is looking for a new language

All advertising is currently accompanied by great uncertainty. Much of what was previously considered good and effective advertising has become a no-go in times of a pandemic like Corona. Happy people who cavort around the bar counter? Pub, closeness, hugging - meanwhile pictures of a bygone era. This is no longer possible and causes rather negative feelings for viewers. The powerful, dominant medium of advertising should be used with fine sense. Those responsible for communication are massively insecure whether they can still reach anyone effectively with advertising. In view of the daily pandemic figures, which product can still be that important that it can be celebrated in advertising? Here, advertising uses another powerful function: to depict and serve current emotions and desires. Humanity, solidarity and everything that makes sense. Anyone who can deal with these in advertising should bring their sustainability issues to bear here and use their commitment to capture the fundamental tenor in society that will remain after the crisis.

Healthy environment and social justice as lifestyle

Healthy environment and social justice as lifestyle

Does anyone else remember LOHAS? LOHAS (Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability) refers to people who maintain a sustainable lifestyle and place special emphasis on health, environmental and social aspects. Lohas are not a social movement, and they do not pursue common political goals. What unites them are certain values such as authenticity and naturalness and the participation in goals such as a healthy environment, justice and a fair society. As a consumer group as well as a citizen, this group will have a stronger voice in the future.

New reflectiveness
for new values

New reflectiveness for new values

The impairment of everyday life by crises such as the Corona Pandemic has an impact on the perception of environmental qualities. Clean air in cities, the obvious "feasibility" in achieving climate goals, more time for friends and family, deceleration and the realization that money is of relative value when you can't buy anything really relevant anyway. After global pandemics for example, everyone can see a positive long-term effect for themselves. We are once again focusing our attention more on existential questions: What is the human being? What are we for each other? This generates thoughtfulness and opens our minds for new models of life. The new values that we have come to know and appreciate also have the potential to bring us back into balance with nature and thus the issue of sustainability.

Science is heard again. Also in terms of sustainability.

Science is heard again. Also in terms of sustainability.

Not so long ago media scientists and sociologists announced a postfactual age. Above all, the countless pseudo-truths provided on the Internet threatened to overshadow the actual facts in many areas of life. Confidence studies show that confidence in the abilities and will of governments, the media, NGOs and companies to tackle the major challenges of the time is visibly dwindling. The emerging vacuum gives room for the populists' "alternative facts". In the growing mistrust of search engines, social media and "filter bubbles", scientific and technical experts have been getting more attention again. So what speaks against the fact that the voices of science will in future also find more confidence in the political necessities and civic feasibility potential in questions of sustainable development and climate protection?

We won't let that happen.
Together against every crisis.

We won't let that happen. Together against every crisis.

No matter what role you play, be it as a consumer, as an employee, as an entrepreneur, as a citizen, as a neighbor: Exceptional situations like the Corona pandemic are a appeal for solidarity and social orientation. The restrictions experienced sharped the view of how vulnerable supply chains, jobs and even stationary trade are to disruptions. The threats of a pandemic remain just as invisible as the threats posed by climate change, species extinction and long-term ecological damage. Sustainable companies that manufacture products that are also more resilient to crises will consequently receive more approval.

Brands should think carefully about what they promise.

Brands should provide orientation. In crisis situations, consumers instinctively check all brand relationships for their suitability. They react sensitively to deviations from expectations. One thing is certain: consumers will be more skeptical about global brands. Especially if they do not serve as helpful partners beyond advertising promises. Clear winners on the other hand are domestic and regional products. Customers appreciate the security of a direct link to the producers and prefer to rely on regional value chains.

Working from home as a new tool for internal communication

Working from home as a new tool for internal communication

The experience that business life continues even in extreme situations, such as the corona pandemic, with massively reduced mobility, will have consequences. Business mobility will increasingly be classified as expensive and dispensable. Instead of company cars, business trips and office towers, employees will invest in digital mobility. Corona was one of the stress tests for them to see whether the existing communications infrastructure can keep operations running despite spatial separation and staff shortages. At the same time, internal communication must strengthen the cohesion of the workforce - especially if one part is allowed to enjoy the "privilege" of the home office and the other part is still required in production and maintenance. To achieve this, not only must the internal communication channels function well, but companies must find ways to constantly renew appreciation, meaning and relevance in their content.

New digital spaces multiply connectivity

New digital spaces multiply connectivity

What a network we all were. "Networking" was to be the magic word that would solve all the problems of a globally accelerated world. New business ideas, personal careers, new business opportunities - nothing had a chance of success without the necessary degree of networking. Whereas in the world before social media, we were connected by more than six people, this connectivity via Facebook decreased to about 3.5 people. Anyone who was unable to keep up with this dynamic was soon suspected of being a nerd and socially relegated. At the latest the rise of social media made it clear that networking not only has an economic function, but also describes a deeply human need.

The new networking is also reflected in the world of work in a different context: Whole companies, such as Twitter, work entirely from home, meetings are held via video conferencing and lessons, workshops and training courses are conducted in virtual classrooms. But there will be more to come: In the future, videomeetings and augmented reality will combine to create new spaces for interaction: Product presentations, townhall meetings, press conferences, trade fairs will bring people together in virtual rooms and increase the productivity of networking.

Social distance changes employer branding

Social distance changes employer branding

More and more people want to work in a profession that they feel makes sense. Every second person would accept a lower salary in exchange for a more meaningful activity. Especially due to the Corona crisis, these jobs have been considerably upgraded. But it is not only millennials that are oriented towards meaningful tasks. The trend goes through all age groups. Even professionals who previously preferred the material security and career prospects of a large company had to learn during the crisis and in short-time work how deceptive this security was. So why not go straight to an employer and switch to a job that makes sense and can provide identification? And the Corona crisis in particular has shown that no company will remain unchanged by the crisis. Many will have to learn very quickly and reinvent themselves in order to stay in the favor of the candidates. One of the biggest challenges will be to build up expectations of a corporate culture that for some time to come will be characterized by social distance.


The so-called “Triple Bottom Line” approach demands that the concept of sustainability should aim to achieve a lasting balance between economic, ecological and social performance. To be a truly sustainable company, a triple bottom line should be drawn in a company’s profit and loss statement, figuratively speaking, that includes ecological and social commitment. Sounds complex, and it is.
Under #triplebottomlinethinker, we let experts have their say who deal with selected aspects of sustainability accounting and contribute to a better understanding of the need for action.

Sustainability Reporting

Social responsibility deserves to be heard

With professional know-how, competence in different subjects and ethical sensitivity, we provide orientation in important questions of sustainability.

crossrelations works across disciplines and formats. This enables us to strengthen the communication and persuasive power of our clients.

Ethics and sustainability

Sustainability reports are among the most sought-after, but also most demanding corporate publications. They are important sources for all those who need to get an idea of a company’s responsibility practices and future viability. Employees are looking for identification, financial analysts need tips on value development and applicants want to gain a feeling for ethics and corporate culture. All seek orientation for their relationship with the company in the sustainability report. We know what is important.

20 years of GRI expertise

crossrelations has probably the longest experience in the application of the guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) in Germany. As early as 2000, we brought the first report explicitly oriented to GRI to the public in the form of VAW aluminium. Since then, we have actively supported the application of each new generation of guidelines. As a member of the GRI Standards Pioneers Group, we advised on the introduction of the currently valid standards.

Reporting will be different

Sustainability reporting is changing. For a while it looked as if the sustainability report would soon be formally and stylistically integrated into the annual report. However, with the credibility crisis of financial reporting and the simultaneous upgrading of companies’ sustainability orientation, the wind has changed here. Finally, digitization is creating entirely new forms of storytelling, communicating with stakeholders and processing data. We are looking forward to meeting customers who want to break new ground with us.

Pioneer in sustainability communication

In the beginning of crossrelations, the idea was to free oneself from the interest bubbles of the disciplines when choosing communicative means and to orientate communication performance solely on the effect to be achieved. At the beginning of crossrelations, however, there was also the concern to balance environmental and later sustainability communication more effectively between the interests of companies and stakeholders.

As a scientific career changer, Andreas Severin remeasured the communicative field of action, aligned the means of communication with the goals of value creation and always focused on the trust capital of companies.

He is recognized across all industries for his sustainability expertise and is familiar with the specific environment of stakeholders. His extensive network keeps him involved in the ongoing specialist discussions in the fields of CSR and sustainability and facilitates a wide range of cooperation. In the food industry, his advice is particularly sought after in dealing with acute food crises and product recalls.


Sustainability Reports

VAW aluminium

A “historical” environmental report. VAW aluminium (today Hydro Aluminium) decided at the time to base its “Environmental Report 2000 – On the road to sustainability” on the then new guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative. At that time, these first guidelines were still in a testing and evaluation phase as part of a multi-stakeholder process. At that time, neither we nor the client were aware that we would be the first in Germany to publish a report explicitly oriented to GRI.


Mining and sustainability? Can this be “reported”? One can and one must. Especially today. Because mining is coming to an end and important new tasks lie ahead. The dismantling of the mines, the restoration of the natural environment and – forever – dewatering underground and the protection of the groundwater. The comprehensive report was based on the reporting guidelines of the DNK and was realized by crossrelations digitally and as a print publication.


Europe’s largest automobile manufacturer has always played a pacemaker role in the industry, both in terms of operational environmental protection and in the development of concepts for sustainable mobility. For over 15 years, crossrelations has helped shape this success story for the brand and the Volkswagen group. Successful environmental and sustainability reports, the industry’s first mobility portal, international events and many additional communication offerings have contributed to worldwide recognition and internal identification.


Xella is the world’s largest manufacturer of aerated concrete and sand-lime brick. In its second sustainability report, the company has significantly expanded the scope and depth of its reporting.


Sustainability reports often gain formal credibility at the expense of communicative qualities. Apetito follows the highest reporting standards (Global Compact, GRI “core”) and communicates its sustainability practice in a comprehensible and entertaining way.


The first sustainability report on agriculture in Germany documents the sustainability performance using an aggregated sustainability index. This allows the development of sustainability in agriculture to be seen at a glance.


Dialog. Employees. Change.

Anyone who deals with issues relating to the sustainable development of a company is well on the way to solving crucial entrepreneurial questions about the future. The discussion about goals and the right path always begins with your own employees. This is where internal communication is required to initiate change.

Employer communication in the "new normal“

The corona pandemic has left deep scars on the structure and everyday life of the workplace. Formerly rather rigid, conservative work environments are relaxing with the productive results from home office and video conferencing. For many, trust instead of control means taking a risk. Whether it succeeds depends on the quality and usefulness of the new communication offerings. The transformation raises many questions: mobile or stationary, binding or voluntary, content or dialogue-driven?

Wanted: talents with a point of view.
New requirements in employer branding.

Attracting good employees is one thing. Retaining them and motivating them in terms of sustainable work practices is undoubtedly the greater challenge. But it is not enough to make the employer brand shine publicly. What is needed is an employer promise (EVP) that can be verified in day-to-day operations, which names the underlying corporate values and places them in the context of the sustainability goals.

Occupational health and safety

The key figures for occupational safety and health always show the importance of employees in the management’s scale of values. Those who value their employees and want to put their skills at the service of long-term corporate development will be prepared to invest in occupational safety and health. This is also reflected in all company evaluations of sustainability.

But what to do if the accident rate rises? Then classic appeals and notices on the notice board quickly reach their limits. Then intelligent and psychologically effective communication offers for behavior control are required.


The Adecco subsidiaries DIS and its subsidiary euro engineering are among the top ten providers of specialist services in Germany. We have further developed the internal media for both companies. The DIS employee magazine “Perspektiven” has given the diverse competencies a face and has been awarded several prizes.


JOB AG is one of the leading German providers of temporary employment and personnel placement services. The company is known for its efficient decentralized structure. We supported them in the introduction of a mobile employee app and in the development and communication of a candidate promise (EVP).

AEG / Electrolux

We have been supporting the household appliance manufacturer Electrolux in its internal communication for many years. Among other things, we developed the employee magazine “einblick” and supervised its editorial implementation. A well-structured intranet enables employees at the German locations to be on top of things and changes together.

Industrial safety

Case study RAG

The occupational safety campaign stages its own employees as ambassadors. The “miner’s honor” became the central theme of posters, videos and experience elements.

Training courses, media support through the employee magazine “Steinkohle” and direct communication made the campaign a success. By the end of 2017, the already low accident rate had already fallen to a historic level.


This has been rewarded with the Occupational Safety Prize, the Promotion Prize of the German Employers’ Liability Insurance Association for Raw Materials and the Chemical Industry (BG RCI) and the International German PR Prize “Internal Communication, Change and Transformation”.

In addition, the film on the occupational safety campaign was presented to the audience at the International Media Festival for Prevention in Singapore.

Award-winning campaigns

German PR Prize 2018

Audience Award
Inkometa Award 2019

Work-Safety-Health 2017

Occupational health and safety award
German Occupational Safety Prize 2017

Living sustainably. Now more than ever!

All studies point in the same direction: consumer behavior has changed and developed clear trends during the pandemic. Almost half of German consumers are prepared to spend more money on sustainable products. Healthy products, local produce and feel-good offers are very popular. At the same time, they are calling for greater environmental awareness on the part of industry and expect companies to assume social responsibility.

Climate protection requires team play between consumers, customers and companies.

Two thirds in Germany want to actively protect the climate and are prepared to live more responsibly. In doing so, they are setting an example of what they expect from trade and industry: resource protection, the will to innovate, fair products, responsible employers.

Trusting the product means trusting the company.

Product trust always also means trust in the manufacturer, supply chain and trade. Transparency, dialogue and attitude can contribute significantly to trust and credibility. A challenge for marketing and communication. Product transparency is the main driver for more sustainability in the consumer goods industry. The product crisis and the recall from the market show who deserves trust.

Relationship Manager

Jörg Middelkamp uses all means to achieve the greatest possible impact with an integrated campaign. He has proven this in both advertising and PR agencies – for brands, companies and associations as well as now for the challenges of climate change.

This requires a clever central idea and assertive campaigns that work consistently on every channel: print or digital, directly or together with opinion leaders and cooperation partners.


Sustainability in Chilean lithium production

Electric mobility is unstoppable. But this has sparked off a heated discussion: Where do the raw materials for batteries come from and how are they mined? In addition to cobalt, lithium is the main focus of criticism in the media and in public. Is it true that lithium mining in Chile robs the indigenous inhabitants of their water? Consumers are worried. For the Chilean company SQM, one of the largest lithium producers in the world, it is time to clear up numerous prejudices and accusations about lithium mining. With a life cycle assessment and the new SQM media service, the company is facing up to the discussion in Germany.

CleanSmoke - Purified smoke

The alternative to conventional smoking is called CleanSmoke: harmless without ashes, without tar but with the same taste. Sustainable from smoke generation to application. So that this alternative becomes generally accepted with manufacturers, trade and consumers, prominent manufacturers created the CleanSmoke Coalition.

The agency succeeded in eliminating the prejudices about smoke flavours with media, dealers and manufacturers as well as making the CleanSmoke procedure internationally more well. Special attention was paid to the organic sector and the EU Commission. crossrelations controls the marketing and the current international education campaign as well as looking after the members.

Graefs allround-slicing machine vs. food waste

For the renaissance of the all purpose-slicer we have staged “SlicedKitchen – The kitchen of fine cuts” with the themes of enjoyment, creativity and sustainable housekeeping. Purchased in one piece and only sliced when needed, bread, cheese and sausage remain fresh right down to the last slice: less food waste, less packaging waste.

No Food Waste

We present the new brand world and the sustainability claim in an e-magalog, at the point of sale, in social media and media work as well as in a storage ABC.

AEG Food

Careful handling of food saves resources. Tips and recipes showed how this works. These sustainability topics were summarized in the “Experience Home” roadshow. We opened the presentation with a press conference in Hamburg.

AEG Care

Valuable classics are lasting favorites. Communication recommends the optimal care systems. From production, to care, to a long life.

This is how we make communication more successful:

With future topics

Journalists use press releases and research in various sources to gain an impression of companies and markets. We want to reach them there as well and consistently supply portals and social media channels with news.

Sustainability campaigns are controlled from a newsroom. Specialized editors prepare the news in for the individual channels. In this way, we reach all those who keep themselves up to date in a sustainable manner.

FirstSignals® identifies trends very early

Today, companies must above all prove that they are innovative, adaptable and future-proof. This also includes identifying the opportunities and risks of new topics at an early stage. We use the research method FirstSignals®. A concept for algorithm-based, strategic early recognition of new trends. Through the combination of algorithm-based analysis methods and the performance of experienced editors and analysts, FirstSignals® recognizes the first weak signals of a trend that is just emerging.

Enlightens the layperson

Every communicator knows this dilemma: “What is simple is wrong, what is complex is not useful.“ We counter this with simple language and the “Layman Report” concept. Guaranteed free of jargon and a bit of democratization of communication and participation.

On all channels

For us, campaigning means the use of the entire keyboard at our disposal. We are shaped by the DNA of confidence-building PR, but we focus on the instruments that make the desired effect possible. Be it classic advertising, public affairs, storytelling, networking, social campaigns, influencer marketing, publishing, apps, websites and all of this integrated as far as possible. With the “Youniverse” platform developed by our partners at raumHOCH, we open up completely new spaces of virtual communication and presentation for our customers.

E-Magalog - Digital Brand Magazine

An E-Magalog is the online version of a current catalog in the look of a magazine. The entire brand understanding and philosophy of a company can be experienced on sophisticatedly designed magazine pages and through video and slide show integrations.  For the trade as well as for the consumer. In this way, the brand retains its charisma, the company becomes alive and the information gains depth. Click here for the E-Magalog “Graefs Mundwerk”.

With new agility in the newsroom

In many companies, the “newsroom” is the most important organizational response to the new digital challenges of communication. However, communication in the echo chambers of the Internet must be more than just a “content factory” with an annual theme plan. That’s why we go one step further. With the “agile newsroom” and a process model based on Design Thinking, we enable companies to communicate across all channels in a coordinated and dynamic manner, while at the same time continuously incorporating demand behavior and media resonance into the management.

Contact information

Rhein-Main Office

crossrelations brandworks GmbH
Kaiserstraße 65
60329 Frankfurt am Main
Fon: +49 69/1532594 – 30
Fax: +49 69/13024406

Kontakt: Jörg Middelkamp

Rhein-RUHR Office

crossrelations brandworks GmbH
Bismarckstraße 120
47057 Duisburg
Fon: +49 203/509602 – 10
Fax: +49 203/509602 – 11

Kontakt: Andreas Severin