With ESG, it’s how you talk about your activity, as much as what you do, that will cut through and get you noticed
Environmental, social and governance principles (ESG) are now an important lens through which corporate activity is scrutinised by everyone from consumers to investors. As a result, almost every company is vying to shout about what they are doing in these areas.
The sheer amount of noise means standing out is tricky. Even exemplary work, great results and truly sustainable credentials may not be getting the attention they deserve. What can make a difference is effective communication – thoughtful, informed and well-produced content that explains in some detail what is being done and why. It talks about targets and measurement, and looks at what the expected impact will be. Done well, ESG content offers companies a real chance to differentiate themselves – and even pick up press coverage.
We’ve reviewed a lot of corporate ESG communications and have some tips on best practice. If your company is authentically making change, you should be making content that will rise above the tide of greenwashing and cynicism.
Standing out in a sea of green
Our full report is available to download below and looks at some great content and communications from big names including PwC, BNP Paribas, Ikea and Nestlé. Here are some key messages, applicable to any company in any sector.
- Be transparent. All good ESG content starts with being truthful and having measurable progress. You don’t have to have all the answers – no one does – but you should be honest about how far you’ve got rather than being tempted to exaggerate. Proof points are a must for credibility.
- A rising tide lifts all boats. We can’t all be Larry Fink, the BlackRock CEO famed for his annual letter to other CEOs, but every company has lessons it can share – good and bad – from what it has attempted and what has gone well. Consider what those are for your company and how they can be more widely shared for the greater good – after all, we all live on the same, rapidly warming planet.
- Moving beyond the written word. Blogs and thought leadership articles have a prime place in the canon of ESG content – but standing out could be aided by some others ways of packaging material. Would a podcast be a more appealing way to talk through what you are doing? How about a colourful infographic succinctly summing up progress and using some striking key stats? The bigger your ESG content toolbox, the better.
- Keep banging the drum. Some pieces of content are natural one-off explainers or write-ups of a certain point in time. But ESG initiatives evolve and short steps are part of long journeys. A sustained content campaign of written work, plus visuals and maybe some audio, can create momentum as each piece expands on what came before. If all the pieces link to each other (and they should!), then any reader finding one can be led through them all.
- Stand up to stand out. Everyone wants to be seen as industry-leading or doing things a little better or differently to those around them. If you genuinely are, make sure you shout about it. It’s often good to be the odd one out – especially if you’re bucking an established trend or leaping ahead of your rivals in terms of establishing your company purpose.
Doing right by doing good for the planet is vitally important and reaping the benefits of sharing that work effectively with a wider audience also makes sound business sense. Follow these tips to give you the best chance of standing out in a crowded (and often polluted) field.