The Increasing Need to Merge Business with Brand: How ESG is Flooding the Media Cycle

You can’t click on a link, open an email or turn on your iPad without knowing the world is in turmoil, and the PR industry is evolving to reflect this.

Business news is beating out traditional branding information in what’s important to a company’s stakeholders. Finding new ways to bring brand and business continuity to your company and clients is increasingly important. I’m not talking about an increased level of importance put on corporate social responsibility for organizations — that’s old news. I’m thinking about the culture in America and the media cycle that prefers a serious stance from a brand, rather than something like a frivolous America’s Ugliest Bathroom campaign.

I remember some of the first corporate social responsibility campaigns I worked on 20 years ago. I was amazed to see corporations change their communications style and corporate culture to embed their brand into the “hearts and minds” of their target audiences. What was important to the consumer became important to the brand. But now we’re looking at a world where companies are changing their business practices in the C-suite to match what’s significant in society’s eyes — and it’s not because they want to sell more sugar water.

ESG: Not just another acronym

Of course, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) isn’t a new term. But it’s gained a lot of momentum this year in the boardrooms and on the top floors of major corporations.

One way ESG has ascended corporate social responsibility is by broadening the audience. Public relations professionals have been using the term “stakeholders” long before I started in 1996, but I remember learning how that term transcends clients, customers, consumers and stockholders to include everyone involved in an organization — directly or indirectly.

ESG goes further. 

Certainly employees, senior leaders and business partners have all been a critical group when it comes to communicating brand and business happenings. But other stakeholders, including industry influencers, Washington regulators, legal watchdogs, community constituents and local and national politicians, have gained more importance from not just communicators, but from the corporate leaders, owners and stockholders of America’s most respected organizations.

[Read More: The Best 4 PR Tactics for ESG Campaigns]

The direct line between ESG and business growth

There’s no doubt a strong ESG proposition creates value. If you are one of the few who doesn’t believe that, read any business section in a major market daily. But in the twenty-first century, value isn’t measured just on a balance sheet or a stock price. Investors, business leaders and regulators are finding value in brands that bring a lot more to the table with ESG.

[Read More: How Brands Can Build Trust Through Transparency]

Here’s a report from McKinsey from 2019 foreshadowing the importance of ESG. There’s a lot of information explaining what ESG is (remember, it was in its infancy), but my favorite part of the piece is the overview of the five essential ways that ESG can be linked to value creation.

When I was working at global public relations agencies a few (maybe more) years ago, we knew consumers would spend and develop affinity with brands who were socially conscious and aligned with their values. This way of thinking has evolved to business leaders and investors who know they’ll see more top-line growth from companies who are socially and environmentally conscious and align to society’s overall values. And this isn’t just a few dollars at the register or in the online shopping cart. This is major-league investing that enables growth and protects bottom-line revenue.

Check out this story from Forbes from a few weeks ago for more: Banks and business leaders who use ESG aren’t ‘woke.’ They’re protecting their bottom lines.

It’s amazing the corporate benefits that come from the hard-fought environmental movement. Lower energy consumption, reduced waste responsibility and lower resource cost are just a few. Supply chain, material acquisition and delivery methods have and will continue to level out, and in some cases, become cheaper due to the prominence placed on environmental procedures.

Along with the cost reductions and improved production methods, long-term benefits are starting to come around, including enhancing credibility and brand reputation with all a company’s stakeholder groups. Just search any Google Business Profile to see how consumers voice ESG concerns.

Continuity in communications

I mentioned above how finding new ways to bring brand and business continuity to your company and clients is increasingly important. The benefits include true expression on a business’s core values, unification of messaging in various forms, and the building of trust with stakeholders of all kinds.

This Forbes article from the beginning of this year makes some great points: 14 Smart Ways For Companies To Incorporate ESG Into Their Branding. ESG combines the company’s expression through corporate social responsibility and investor relations, and more so than ever, through a company’s brand. 

But another point is an organization can use business stories to ensure continuity in communications to all stakeholders. This will gain trust within stakeholder engagement and create increased credibility with business media covering your organization holistically. 

Another great point is using storytelling and statistics provides companies with a framework to ensure the business operates in an equitable, sustainable, socially responsible way.

New channels expand efforts and value

Bringing your corporate social responsibility and ESG efforts into nontraditional channels will help merge the brand with the business. Many public relations agencies are incorporating paid media into their overall campaigns for clients. When you’re looking at these tactics, you’ll want to think, “How do I get the right eyes on my client’s or business’s content?”

Within the Brandpoint bag of solutions, we also provide a Guaranteed Section Front option. This option gives your content front-page business section placements that will gain credibility across certain national and local publications. This comes with guaranteed results that will certainly boost your media coverage numbers and delight your clients and internal stakeholders.

Serious world, serious business

Hopefully you’ve gained some ideas and insights by reading this post. Although the world is more serious, and our responsibilities as communicators have become increasingly somber, remember, a lot of our work is focused on sharing our brand’s ideals and values that we hope are making the world a better place.

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