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Heat-Proof Strategy with ESG Under Fire

Heat-Proof Strategy with ESG Under Fire

Concern around the global climate crisis is giving way to rising criticism of ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) as a concept. And it’s not unfounded: 

  • The term aspires to capture a wide, often disjointed breadth of themes – as exemplified recently by Tesla.

  • Many ESG impacts are inherently difficult to measure, making it difficult to achieve common standards. 

  • There are also questions around the intentions of financial market actors regarding ESG. Do they actually care about a real-world impact, or is it simply a means of risk management?

Despite these criticisms, the underlying rationale for ESG continues to gain momentum. Societal pressure, investor demands and evolving regulatory standards are pushing the expectation that business and financial actors must enable a transition to net zero. However, lack of common standards and reliable data make it difficult to evaluate ESG performance, which puts companies at risk of greenwashing allegations that could severely damage their reputation.

While the debate grows increasingly polarized, corporations will need to develop a strong, transparent approach to ESG. To navigate this challenging environment, companies should focus on these actions: 

  • Identify the material risk factors and value drivers for ESG measures. 

  • Build ambitious ESG strategies with credible targets that are integrated into corporate strategies and business models.

  • Explain how ESG strategies are being implemented, highlighting the complexities of the net zero transformation.

Communicate ESG roadmaps that provide transparency on commitments, concrete action and tangible progress. This should be done in a way that shows that targets are not an end in themselves.

By the Numbers

Cracking the Freelance Code

Understanding how to successfully pitch freelancers can be an important part of your organization’s earned media strategy. Our colleagues at FGS’ Health Media Insights newsletter share some tips on engaging freelance journalists:

  1. Familiarize yourself with their work. Public databases like The Open Notebook and Successful Pitches provide insight into freelancers’ accepted pitches, which often have a highly developed narrative and include the names of subject matter experts they plan to interview. Diving into these resources can help give you an idea of the level of detail the freelancer might be looking to include in a future story.

  2. Build in longer timelines. Freelancers don’t have as much control over when their stories are published, so a best practice is to pitch evergreen trend stories rather than timely news with a set release date. 

  3. Study their go-to outlets. If you’re targeting a freelancer who often writes for a particular outlet, be sure to review that outlet’s pitching guidelines to give you a sense of what the reporter’s story will need to be successful. A wide-ranging library of media outlets’ pitching guides is available here.

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Midterm Mood

Inflation continues to concern business stakeholders and a majority believe the U.S. is currently in "recession." Despite this, stakeholders are optimistic about the impact of the midterm elections. 

These are the headlines out of FGS’ latest Business Policy Survey, FGS Global’s quarterly survey of key business stakeholders that measures and tracks attitudes toward major public policy issues.

Here’s what we found:

  • Inflation concerns continue to rise. For the third quarter in a row, inflation ranks highest among priorities that stakeholders want the federal government to focus on. The proportion of stakeholders selecting inflation as a priority has grown from a third (36%) in Q1 to nearly half (47%) in Q3.

  • Optimism about the midterms on both sides of the aisle. Business stakeholders are optimistic about the midterm elections, regardless of party affiliation. Both sides think they will win, and thus expect positive effects on business conditions.

  • Cultural values are important to stakeholders. A majority of stakeholders - 55% of employees, 58% of business decision-makers, and 54% of investors - want to work at, do business with and invest in companies that share their social values. Business stakeholders are even more likely than consumers (40%) to say it is important the companies they interact with share their values.

Dig into the survey and its methodology here.

October 4, 2022
By Nedra Pickler and Irene Moskowitz
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