Four ways to get more out of your ESG report

There’s typically a collective sigh of relief when your company’s sustainability or ESG report finally goes live. After months of work involving numerous stakeholders and countless edits, at last you’ve found the right balance of useful information and engaging reporting. Now that it’s published, your comms team can move on to the next project.

Job done! Or … maybe not.

The reality is, this lengthy report as a whole is unlikely to find a broad audience. But you spent a lot of time and effort on it: researching stories, making new connections across the organization, and putting it all together. By repurposing content and maintaining your contacts, you can get much more mileage out of that effort.

LEFF Sustainability Group has you covered—from developing a holistic, cross-channel strategy to the end-to-end production of the full range of content assets, including ESG and sustainability reports. We recognize that organizations from start-ups to larger companies have different needs and that sustainability is a journey: a consistent effort to make responsible decisions, implement better processes, and communicate these efforts to key audiences. We’ve provided strategic counsel and content services across that journey, so we know the challenges and rewards that come at each step.

Our experienced communicators and sustainability experts have decades of experience at world-leading companies, media organizations, and institutions. We will work with you to determine where you are and where you’re going—serving as your long-term, trusted thought partner.

Finding stories within stories for different audiences

Your sustainability report contains a treasure trove of content highlighting various aspects of your company’s activities. Unlocking the full potential of your effort should start at the research phase and continue well past publishing.

Many of a company’s sustainability initiatives are stories in their own right, albeit with a different appeal for audiences beyond the primary target of investors, policymakers, and regulators. Companies can speak to the general public and other interest groups by extracting findings and anecdotes from their report and publishing them as stand-alone articles or follow-ups to the full document.

For example, we once worked on an ESG report for a global affordable-housing organization. It quickly became clear that stories about the company’s numerous innovative design methods and technology could reach a much broader audience, from the ways it was looking at housing and community design to how it was integrating new technology into playgrounds and outdoor gyms.

In the report, these intriguing snippets were fleeting pieces of data or bullet points, but they could quite easily be adapted into interesting content for broader audiences. These brand assets could appeal to customers, potential employees, or influencers.

Four ways to get more mileage out of your company’s sustainability report

How can you ensure your report is just the beginning rather than the end? The key is to apply a journalist’s lens to find the inspirational side of your organization’s activities. Make sure you collate as you go and keep a record of how you can build out promising sustainability content. You will be able to not only populate your publishing calendar but also establish your people as knowledge experts in many fields outside of ESG or sustainability reporting. Four actions can help:

Repurpose, recycle, republish

The corollary of pulling stories out of stories is to make more out of your report’s big findings—but in shorter and more easily digestible forms. Approved content can easily be tailored for different channels and formats. It just requires a little effort to shape it into SEO-friendly shorter-form blogs, social media assets, data-driven listicles, case studies, and multimedia.

Take a creative cut

Resist getting hooked exclusively on prose for these shorter cuts. Once you have the final version of the full report, think about a more creative cut using different formats. A short-form video, animation, or infographic of the key highlights can offer different avenues into the report. This process often calls for a simple creative brief and a fresh set of eyes to come up with engaging ways to present the findings. 

Use your network to help develop future content

In the process of creating and editing a sustainability report, your comms team or external agency will get access to internal experts on subjects ranging from operations and R&D to governance and HR. This exposure provides an opportunity to form longer-term relationships with teams and individuals who can help you create content beyond the sustainability report itself. These teams are proud of their work and likely will be flattered that you want to showcase what they’re doing day to day. Consider highlighting this work through formats such as expert interviews, blog posts, longer-form articles, or even image galleries.

Support online reputation management

Think strategically about how you can use your sustainability or ESG content to shape your organization’s reputation. How can you proactively push out content in a timely manner to respond to current events or trending news topics? How will you respond if your company’s reputation comes under attack? You can develop content and keep it at the ready to join the conversation or answer questions about your sustainability efforts.

The bigger point: companies shouldn’t think of a sustainability or ESG report as a one-off story but rather an ongoing narrative and process. This philosophy opens the door for many innovative ways to get more from your investment. What could be more sustainable than that?