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Why sustainability holds the key to engagement & distinctive storytelling - James Osborne

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James Osborne, Head of Sustainability & Partner at Lundquist, gives a sneak preview of the upcoming CSR Online Awards, which looks at how sustainability is becoming a key part of corporate comms.

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We welcomed a full house to the 2016 Lundquist European Seminar on Digital Corporate Communications & 15th Webranking Awards. The event was covered exclusively in Corriere Economia.

The event held on November 30th at the headquarters of leading Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera recognised excellence in online corporate communications.

We presented the findings and awarded the winners of the Webranking 2016-2017 Italian Listed and Non-Listed research and Swiss Listed research, heard first hand experiences of how companies deal with crisis communication, discussed digital governance, held panel discussions on integrated company strategy, and provided a preview to our upcoming CSR Online Awards research.

Published in: Business
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Why sustainability holds the key to engagement & distinctive storytelling - James Osborne

  1. 1. 15TH EUROPEAN SEMINAR ON DIGITAL CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS WHY SUSTAINABILITY HOLDS THE KEY TO ENGAGEMENT & DISTINCTIVE STORYTELLING & PREVIEW OF 7TH CSR ONLINE AWARDS James Osborne Partner and Head of Sustainability, Lundquist
  2. 2. Sustainability communications as an island Where we started from…
  3. 3. KEY TAKEAWAYS FOR TODAY • Don’t think about sustainability communications in isolation as an add-on at the end of the process: your audiences don’t, so you shouldn’t either • What does this mean in practice? • Effective sustainability communications needs to be • Relevant, cross-cutting and people-focused • These are the foundations of the CSR Online Awards and all our work EUROPEAN SEMINAR ON DIGITAL CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS AND 15TH WEBRANKING AWARDS FULLY INTEGRATED INTO THE SUSTAINABILITY PROCESS FULLY INTEGRATED INTO THE DIGITAL ECOSYSTEM
  4. 4. Your challenge today • Shorter attention spans & greater competition for that attention • More complex digital environments • Mix of “tasks” even among the same audience groups IMPACT OF DIGITAL EVOLUTION OF SUSTAINABILITY • Integration across digital ecosystem • Showing a distinctive way of doing business • Conflation of reporting, communications and engagement THE IMPLICATION FOR YOU • Materiality undermines unitary concept of “sustainability” • Return to focus on stakeholders • Importance of the core business rather than “nice-to-have” EUROPEAN SEMINAR ON DIGITAL CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS AND 15TH WEBRANKING AWARDS USER- CENTRIC STAKEHOLDER -CENTRIC PEOPLE- CENTRED
  5. 5. People… do you know their critical issues? EUROPEAN SEMINAR ON DIGITAL CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS AND 15TH WEBRANKING AWARDS
  6. 6. What is the CSR Online Awards? EUROPEAN SEMINAR ON DIGITAL CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS AND 15TH WEBRANKING AWARDS
  7. 7. Goals of the new edition of the research • Investigate how the “age of materiality” affects communications – both in terms of stakeholder expectations and in company responses • Make a natural evolution in the protocol but maintaining continuity from previous edition to allow for easy comparison of performance Four main rankings • Europe Top 75 – a combination of the top 50 European companies by market value and industry leaders/top performers from the Dow Jones Sustainability Index • Germany Top 35 – components of the benchmark DAX index plus leading non-listed companies • Italy Top 100 – largest 80 listed companies and selection of 20 unlisted brands • Switzerland Top 50 – members of the SMI Expanded index plus leading non-listed companies • Monitor trends towards transparency ahead of the EU directive on non-financial transparency • Move to more quantitative assessment of social media activity by analysis of Facebook and Twitter analytics EUROPEAN SEMINAR ON DIGITAL CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS AND 15TH WEBRANKING AWARDS
  8. 8. How we measure good sustainability communications 16,0% 16,0% 19,0% 9,5% 15,0% 11,5% 13,0% 18,0% 18,0% 20,5% 11,0% 12,0% 8,0% 12,5% SEVEN PILLARS: CHANGES IN WEIGHTINGS Concrete Exhaustive User-friendly Ongoing Social Integrated Distinctive Source: Lundquist CSR Online Awards Evaluation protocol in 7 pillars: 2016 (inner ring) vs. 2014 (outer ring) 100 points max score EUROPEAN SEMINAR ON DIGITAL CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS AND 15TH WEBRANKING AWARDS
  9. 9. 4 WAYS WE PUT PEOPLE AT THE CENTRE OF THE CSR ONLINE AWARDS EUROPEAN SEMINAR ON DIGITAL CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS AND 15TH WEBRANKING AWARDS
  10. 10. 1. We ask real people what they want Ongoing surveys of users about digital habits and expectations • 1,700+ responses to date Mix of corporate respondents, experts and stakeholders • Journalists & bloggers • SRI analysts • Financial analysts & investors • NGOs and non-profits • Academics, students and researchers Backed up by monitoring of sustainability and digital trends
  11. 11. We saw the decline in report reading coming… 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Non corporate Corporate Percentage of respondents citing “reading a report” as a top priority when visiting company websites for CSR and sustainability information. Source: Lundquist CSR Online Awards HIGHER PRIORITIES IN 2016 • Sustainability approach, strategy and objectives • Case studies and projects • Identification of priority issues • Targets and progress EUROPEAN SEMINAR ON DIGITAL CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS AND 15TH WEBRANKING AWARDS
  12. 12. How to address topics that matter most? A vast majority of our respondents said they expect companies to talk about their most material issues differently compared to other topics. But how…? Better assessment of how the issues relate to business strategy Deeper stakeholder engagement around key issues Greater evidence of action (stories, examples, case studies, interviews, etc.) 48% 47% 46% Percentages refer to amount of respondents selecting among top three choices. Source: Lundquist CSR Online Awards EUROPEAN SEMINAR ON DIGITAL CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS AND 15TH WEBRANKING AWARDS
  13. 13. What frustrates users the most? Sustainability presented in isolation from the core business Difficult navigation and complex website structures Company presents itself only in positive self- promotional way 67% 64% 46% Percentages refer to amount of respondents saying they are “frustrated” or “highly frustrated”. Source: Lundquist CSR Online Awards EUROPEAN SEMINAR ON DIGITAL CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS AND 15TH WEBRANKING AWARDS
  14. 14. 2. Setting hurdles to enter the CSR Online Awards No “automatic” qualification for full ranking – we evaluate only companies that clear two hurdles: • 1st test: do you report systematically about environmental, social and governance topics? • 2nd test: are you transparent online through the corporate website, meeting basic requests of core users? …because people need to trust what you are saying.
  15. 15. 3. New, data-driven assessment of social media Social media represent a direct engagement between a company/brand and its stakeholders/users (sorry… people). With the support of Twig, we have adopted qualitative assessment of Facebook and Twitter in order to measure: • How much companies address sustainability and CSR topics in social media • How much engagement they generate (and difference between large vs. small communities, etc.) SEMINAR ON DIGITAL CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS AND 15TH WEBRANKING AWARDS 17,916 posts 84,998 tweets • Created of a sustainability “lexicon” of 200+ words, terms and hashtags grouped into themes (environment, community, etc.) • Lexicon drawn from mining of posts/tweets and also from materiality analyses of companies in the research (10 sectors) • Comparison of engagement performance of sustainability vs. non-sustainability posts WHAT WE ANALYSED* HOW WE ANALYSED THE DATA * German, Italian and Swiss companies only
  16. 16. EUROPEAN SEMINAR ON DIGITAL CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS AND 15TH WEBRANKING AWARDS 4. Integrated storytelling Digital storytelling assessed not as an end in itself but as part of telling relevant, human stories about a unique set of impacts and issues, how each company does business • Strategy, governance & ethics • Sustainability context • Environment • Social … and not just a one-sided story (external perspectives) Leading companies showing the way by “debundling” sustainability and using stories as a way to conect with people across the wider ecosystem
  17. 17. Where we’ve ended up…
  18. 18. JAMES OSBORNE @jabosborne Lundquist company page Lundquist Lundquist page Lundquist channel Slideshare account Lundquist page Thank you
  19. 19. INTEGRATED CONTENT STRATEGY PUT INTO ACTION & WEBRANKING AWARDS 2016 ITALY & SWITZERLAND 15TH EUROPEAN SEMINAR ON DIGITAL CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS

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