We live in a period of unprecedented concern regarding people’s impact on our environment and society. And the corporate sector is certainly no exception.
In fact, across industries, companies are making it a priority to show their customers that they, too, are passionate about protecting the environment and society at large. To do so, they are incorporating ESG as a key part of their PR strategies.
What is ESG, and why is it important?
Environmental, social and governance (ESG) denotes a company’s willingness and capacity to manage and mitigate any harmful environmental and social consequences of its actions.
ESG companies focus on their commitment to sustainable practices and alleviating environmental and social concerns, including climate change, human rights, diversity and inclusion, financial transparency and more. With ESG running as a core thread within their projects, companies can ensure that they are acting responsibly for the benefit of all stakeholders – both near and far.
What’s more, with consumers becoming increasingly mindful of the ethical standards of the companies they support, businesses must ensure that their operations and practices align with positive societal values.
Simply put, ESG practices are no longer optional. They are a business imperative to remain competitive in today’s market.
ESG in PR strategy
ESG companies not only face the challenge of creating a business strategy that aligns with socio-ethical considerations, but they are also tasked with the responsibility of effectively communicating these policies to those who matter: their customers.
This is where PR comes in. An ESG-driven PR strategy should enhance the profile of an organisation’s responsible activity. It is vital to illustrate your company’s commitment to creating positive change through its business practices.
If ESG companies do not engage in a comprehensive PR strategy that centres on their sustainable practices, they will fail to resonate with their key audience. Therefore, for ESG brands, environmental and social awareness must form part of their DNA in order to maintain positive reception among their target consumers.
Here are some crucial tactics for effective ESG PR:
Tailored messaging is crucial to enhance your profile and boost your company’s reputation among consumers and investors. You need to communicate what you plan on achieving and how the impacts of your efforts will be measured.
Long-term ESG PR
An ESG narrative only works if it is real. Consumers can detect brand insincerity from a mile away. ESG PR should not start and end with intent, but it should demonstrate a roadmap of action along with evidence of progress. Your PR should highlight your company’s long-term ESG role by creating an enduring mission with specific attainable goals. Develop a narrative that highlights your relevance to long-term ESG discourse, as opposed to solely profit and revenue.
To quell any rumours of insincere ESG efforts, your company should proactively communicate ESG performance to all stakeholders – both internally and externally. Connect your stakeholders to information about your ESG performance. Creating ESG reports is an effective way of reaching investors, employees and regulators. They may also trigger improvements to your existing ESG practices.
Transparent dialogue with internal stakeholders is especially important to build advocacy in support of your long-term goals. A robust internal communications strategy will ensure that your employees are on board with your company’s ESG initiatives and messaging. It also means that employees can be engaged in delivering solutions in line with your ESG practices, for example by reducing energy usage.
Employees themselves are increasingly concerned with social and environmental issues, so harness their energy with open communication that fosters a sense of pride and enhances their well-being. You should also consider launching initiatives such as community volunteer programmes that engage staff with ESG-related issues and demonstrate your company’s commitment.
Honesty and transparency
Being transparent about your company’s ESG performance enhances long-term value, even if it receives short-term criticism. Share accurate data and ranking that not only highlight where your company is doing a good job, but also where there is room for improvement.
Communicating with transparency means acknowledging when your efforts may be faltering. An honest approach to your company’s ESG journey goes a long way with consumers and stakeholders. Crucially, you should use PR to keep your ESG practices authentic and make sure they are being communicated as such.
Tracking ESG efforts
Your ESG PR efforts should establish – and communicate – KPIs fundamental to tracking your corporate social responsibility initiatives. Importantly, a key part of your ESG PR should include monitoring how your ESG efforts are being perceived, as well as identifying stakeholder concerns as early as possible.
Companies that fail to fulfil and communicate their ESG practices will find themselves at a disadvantage among consumers.
Remember that communicating your ESG policies starts with your PR. ESG efforts should be honest and transparent. Strategic, targeted communication taking ownership of ESG efforts will boost your brand’s reputation and keep your company competitive.
To find out more about what PR can offer your company, schedule a call with Jo today.