The Importance of ESG Content for Businesses: A Conversation with Craig

5th July 2024 Article

In today’s business landscape, the concept of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) has become a crucial standard for measuring a company’s impact on society and the environment, as well as its transparency and accountability. During a recent conversation with Craig, our founder, we delved into the significance of ESG content and the reasons why businesses should share this infomation widely, including with investors and the public.

Understanding ESG

ESG stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance. It is a framework used to assess how a company operates in terms of its environmental impact, social responsibility, and governance practices. This framework has evolved significantly as the communications market within large organisations has matured and as the public has become more aware of the need for genuine corporate responsibility.

Craig explained, “As the public has woken up to the need to see genuine good being done within organisations and the value they bring outside of their bottom line of profit, there’s a growing demand for businesses to be transparent and accountable.” This shift in public perception has put pressure on companies to demonstrate their commitment to positive societal impact, not just profitability.

The Dual Benefits of ESG

There are multiple benefits for businesses that embrace ESG practices. Firstly, from a public relations perspective, being seen as a company that does good can enhance public perception and build trust. Craig highlighted this point, saying, “From a PR perspective, it’s about being seen as a good company that aligns its profit-making aims with doing good things.”

Secondly, for companies operating in regulated environments or with scrutinised supply chains, proving their ESG efforts can be crucial. “If you can show that your ESG efforts permeate all the way through your supply chain, it gives you a competitive advantage,” Craig noted. This comprehensive approach can set companies apart from their competitors who may not be as diligent or transparent.

The Evolution from CSR to ESG

The concept of corporate responsibility isn’t new. Previously, it was known as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). However, Craig pointed out that CSR sometimes had a negative connotation because it was often seen as a peripheral activity, not fully integrated into the company’s core operations. “CSR used to be this little thing over there that wasn’t fully integrated with the main company agenda,” he said.

The shift to ESG represents a more holistic and integrated approach. “With recent developments, the ESG agenda has gained a lot more value from both an external and internal perspective,” Craig explained. Employees now expect their companies to be involved in genuine good, and the stories behind these ESG activities can be incredibly powerful if told correctly.

The Power of Storytelling in ESG

One of the most underutilised aspects of ESG is the storytelling potential. Many organisations have robust ESG programs but fail to communicate their efforts effectively. Craig emphasised, “The stories are already there. They don’t have to be manufactured, but they’re not being told in the right way to the wider audience.”

He gave the example of Mars, a company that was an early adopter of promoting genuine good through a major ad campaign about ten years ago. Mars funded grassroots football clubs in the UK and created a large-scale campaign around this initiative. “They were very early in adopting this persona of good and spinning it into a massive communications campaign,” Craig explained.

Creating Effective ESG Content

Effective ESG videocontent should connect the company’s social aims with its organisational goals. Craig shared an example of a successful ESG content strategy related to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) outreach programs. “The best content speaks to both sides of an organisation – their social aims and their organisational aims,” he said.

For companies with a strong STEM agenda, there is a clear alignment between their need for a skilled workforce and their societal contributions. Craig explained, “If you’ve got a STEM outreach program, staff can get involved, add value, and feel invested, while the public sees a clear link between the company’s actions and its goals.”

The Risks of Not Sharing ESG Efforts

Failing to share ESG efforts transparently can be detrimental to a company’s reputation and investor relations. Craig emphasised the importance of authenticity, stating, “The public can spot when something is tokenistic. If your ESG efforts aren’t genuine, people will notice.”

He also noted the concept of a “social contract,” which underlines part of the corporate strategy. “Your business is held to account for its social contract – what it’s doing to better society,” he said. Companies that invest in ESG for the right reasons will benefit from the video content they produce around these efforts. “The worst thing you can do is create disingenuous content around ESG because people will see through it,” Craig warned.

To conclude, ESG content is not just a trend; it’s a vital aspect of modern business strategy. Companies that embrace and effectively communicate their ESG efforts can gain a competitive edge, build trust with the public, and meet regulatory requirements. As Craig aptly put it, “When you get the right story and mix of people, the content is always compelling.”

By integrating ESG into their core operations and sharing their stories transparently, businesses can not only enhance their reputation but also contribute to a better world.

This discussion highlights the critical need for businesses to integrate and communicate their ESG efforts authentically. As Craig eloquently puts it, “The best content is that which is real, deeply integrated with the business’s core mission, and compellingly told.”

Written by Lexy Condick