COP28: How to stand out and keep the conversation going

In late November, COP28 (the 28th gathering of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) will convene in Dubai. The event will welcome 80,000 delegates from around the world to discuss how to address climate change and make progress on environmental issues.

Some of the world’s top companies will also descend on Dubai as sponsors and participants of the conference. Such global events offer a golden opportunity for organizations to share their own insights on climate change and promote their commitments to sustainability. More than 3,000 journalists covered the conference last year.

Companies that would like to use COP28 as a platform to amplify their ideas face two main challenges:

1. Although this meeting will attract a level of media attention similar to that of last year, the crush of attendees and activity at the event means it can be exceedingly difficult to rise above the bustle of activity and stand out.

2. The mad dash to develop and showcase new research and insights for a high-profile event can lead companies to overlook ways to get more out of their investment.

Throwing all your effort into one piece of content that debuts at COP28 can be the communications equivalent of single-use plastic. We’ve seen this dynamic play out multiple times over the years, and we get it: producing a hefty piece of new analysis and insights can be incredibly taxing on an organization, particularly one that isn’t set up for publishing.

So how can companies increase the odds of breaking through while getting a better return on their investment in content?

The answer: an extended, integrated content campaign anchored by a flagship report and followed by a monthslong conversation—with material from the report as the fuel for the campaign.

Companies can follow three steps to lay the groundwork for an effective content campaign.

Settle on a campaign strategy before embarking on content development

Getting more from investments in content requires thoughtful discussion up front. While the flagship report could be a foundational asset for an integrated campaign, the external comms, social media, marketing, and investor relations are crucial to getting it in front of specific audiences. Ensure all of these teams weigh in to address a series of questions:

• What milestones besides COP28 provide natural hooks for promoting sustainability insights?

• Which channels offer the best odds for engaging target audiences?

• Which insights should be featured in the flagship report, and how can additional content amplify the main themes?

I know this step seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how often companies skip it—especially if they find themselves under the gun from the outset. And such conversations typically aren’t productive at the latter stages of report development, or especially after a conference. At that point, the team is burned to a crisp or forced to move on to the next priority.

Leave ample time to achieve greatness

If you’re planning to unveil insights at COP28, start before mid-October. A good rule of thumb: when developing a 50-page report with new research, plan to spend at least three months working on it (and more if possible). If you’ve gotten a late start, scale back your ambitions. Quality is more important than quantity, especially when it’s accompanied by a smart promotion plan.

And remember: having insights to promote at the conference is important, but that’s not your only chance to contribute to the conversation. After all, there are an additional 50 weeks in the year.

Prepare to reuse and repurpose

We’ve shared insights in the past on how companies can get more from their content investments by reusing discrete elements for other content pieces. Take the two to three killer charts in your report and roll them out as a series of charticles or social posts. Have the main authors of the report do short videos or a podcast in which they can go deep on key themes, further reinforcing their authority on the topic. Take advantage of milestones throughout the year—such as Earth Day or the release of an annual sustainability report—to revisit and update data and insights.

We’re currently working with a client that will start developing a sweeping annual report in the fall for publication in January. Most impressive, the client has identified more than 50 discrete pieces of content in the report to be plugged into a six-month campaign that will extend the conversation through the middle of next year. Every chart, every data point, every deep dive into an industry or region is a candidate for a new piece of content. That’s how you do it.

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COP28 will be here in mere months, and good communications strategists are planning their content campaigns now. The location alone has invited discussion on the role of fossil fuel players; the first global stocktake, occurring at COP28, will highlight where the world really is as far as meeting targets. The recent Bonn climate change talks provide a window into mindsets and debates that will flow into COP28 and beyond.

With so much at stake and a sense of urgency leading up to and beyond the event itself, critical ideas deserve to be heard—and the conversation should extend past those two weeks. Taking the right integrated campaign approach is the way to get there.

Scott Leff

Scott is the founder of Leff. He's spent his career helping executives and subject matter experts tell their story in a compelling way. In the process, he's had the opportunity to work with C-suite executives, politicians, academics, and Olympians, not to mention dozens of talented writers, editors, and designers in the business world. Scott developed the concept of “lean content creation” as a cost-effective way to support comprehensive, integrated communication strategies.

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