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The Top ESG Trends for PR and IR Pros to Know from November

Trends word bubble

As 2022 draws to a close, companies continue to send diverse ESG content. Here are three trends we noticed in November in press releases sent via PR Newswire that can help companies refine their ESG messaging this year and beyond. 

1. Connecting With Global Events  

The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP27, was a significant generator of ESG news last month. Companies took the opportunity to announce new ESG initiatives, partnerships, progress and recognition. Keeping tabs on timely and newsworthy ESG events and coordinating content around them gives companies a seat at the table, whether they are attending the event or not.  

In the examples below, both Tencent and IBM present specific climate and social initiatives, using COP27 as the backdrop.  

What these releases get right: Both companies use their headline and subheadlines to clearly convey their message, getting to the “so what” immediately. That’s the single most repeated piece of feedback journalists give us: tell us why this news matters ASAP. That’s even more critical when a company is competing for attention around an international event. 

Conference and trade show news often runs the risk of being templated and dry. Even lively content can be challenging to present in an easily digestible and engaging way. Take cues from Tencent and IBM here, who use bolded section headers and lists to strategically guide readers to the most important points and unique multimedia elements that further break down complex concepts. 

2. Annual Reports 

It’s the time of year when companies begin sharing or preparing their annual reports. This is an opportunity to create an engaging press release that highlights all the good your company has achieved. Don’t treat it as an obligation (even though it is!) – this is your chance to win over journalists, shareholders and potential investors with a dynamic release that’s easily consumable.  

What these releases get right: Craft a headline with a strong action verb that isn’t “Announces.” (Pro tip: A Cision analysis of releases distributed through PR Newswire during an 18-month period revealed the oversaturation of “Announces” in headlines and a vast discrepancy between how often that verb was used in headlines and how many clicks those headlines generated.)  
Additionally, incorporate a noteworthy accomplishment in the headline to help your company stand out, as UP does here.  
Annual reports can easily be visually engaging and effective, as Union Pacific and Boston Beer demonstrate. Both releases are case studies on how to highlight the most important hyperlink and use bolding and bullets to break down key points. 
Don’t forget the multimedia! Find the best visual (that likely already exists within the report or you plan to share on social media) that drives the overall narrative and connects to your company, like Boston Beer Company. 

3. Incorporating ESG Into Earnings  

More companies are carving out a section in their quarterly earnings releases for ESG updates. For them, it’s become as standard as “Quarterly Highlights” or “Business Outlook.”  Nasdaq research in Q2 showed a “huge” jump in ESG commentary during quarterly earnings. FactSet earlier this year analyzed the correlation between companies that discussed ESG during earnings and higher ESG ratings. 

Most quarters, it’s as simple as the techniques United Airlines and Pembina Pipeline Corporation use in the examples below. 

For end-of-year financial reporting, look to Marathon Oil’s coordinated ESG plan from early this year: 

What these releases get right: The Q3 reports include bulleted key ESG highlights and a call to action link, driving traffic (and authority) back to the company site.  

Marathon’s year-end release was strategically timed with an easily digestible standalone ESG report issued just before. The year-end release referenced the aforementioned ESG release and included bullets and a small table, seamlessly weaving ESG content in with the financials for a modern earnings report.

Final Thoughts

If you have an ESG story to tell about your brand, now is as good of a time as ever to shine a spotlight on it. Take a cue from the example above to creating a compelling press release that communicates your message with authenticity and authority.


A version of this post was previously published on Beyond Bylines