WASHINGTON, DC — Before going public with a new ownership model in September, Patagonia helped employees understand and be confident in the sweeping changes, which included company ownership going to two entities that help fight environmental crisis.

“We decided our primary audience would be our colleagues. If we didn’t get this right for them, it wouldn’t matter what anyone else thought of it,” said Corley Kenna, Patagonia’s head of policy & communications.

Speaking Tuesday at PRovokeGlobal in Washington, Kenna said in a conversation with Porter Novelli CEO David Bentley that making employees the center of its comms plan rolling out its new structure made it a success.

The effort involved a relatively elaborate day-long effort that included town hall panel discussions, videos highlighting environmental activism and a look at the intersection of capitalism and climate activism — and how the new structure boosted both.

The effort’s goal was helping employees get a firm grasp on the change, which involved founder Yvon Chouinard and his family transferring their entire ownership into two entities that will ensure Patagonia’s profits will go toward fighting climate change.

“If we did anything right with the rollout, it was making sure that our colleagues were our primary audience and not losing sight of that,” she said.

Only after securing employee buy-in, did Patagonia take their high-profile case to external stakeholders that resulted in a plethora of media coverage of the model which very well may be the first of its kind, Kenna said.

Patagonia’s comms plan supporting its new ownership structure resulted from a years-long effort by the outdoor apparel company to put its purpose of fighting climate crisis in overdrive. Even before the change in business structure, Patagonia was putting roughly $100 million a year into fighting the root causes of environmental and ecological crisis.

“In many ways this was the result of decades of thinking,” Kenna said.

While, for some companies, a move like Patagonia’s would be radical, Kenna said the model’s acceptance by Patagonia’s internal and external stakeholders was relatively smooth, given that the company has been fighting climate change since its founding roughly 50 years ago.

“At Patagonia, for a long time, people have come to work here because we are purpose driven,” she said.

Consumers, too, support the brand because of its values, which also are bolstered through the Patagonia buy-back and supply chain programs.

“We also want to create a culture of people, sort of owning things, not just consuming them,” Kenna said. “ So long as we are taking, we are going to give back.”