Corporate ESG Storytelling Focused on “E” in 2021, Reports 3BL Media

Companies were far more communicative on environmental topics in 2021, ahead of stories about philanthropy and diversity, equity and inclusion, according to study from 3BL Media’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) news platform 3BL Professional.

Of the more than 8,000 reports and stories on ESG topics distributed by 3BL Media in 2021, environmental topics generated the most volume and audience interest, with engagement rising 68 percent over 2020.

“As the public awaits the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s proposed rule on mandatory climate disclosure for publicly traded companies, there has been a sharp increase in the number of reports, articles, videos, press releases and other content discussing carbon emissions, water, waste and the environment,” said Dave Armon, CEO of 3BL Media. “Stakeholders are demanding ESG performance and transparency, and we are seeing companies move beyond annual sustainability reporting to more frequent communications.”

The second most used category at 3BL Media in 2021, philanthropy and cause initiatives, declined 29 percent in audience engagement from its 2020 spike when both B2B and B2C brands were pledging support in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Corporate content on the topic of diversity, equity & inclusion generated the third highest volume in 2021, with engagement rising 35 percent from 2020. “This category grew in 2020 amidst racial justice protests, and it is encouraging to see that companies kept communicating about DE&I in 2021, and readers found it even more relevant,” said Armon.

There was a 13 percent increase in readership for reports, a category covering all forms of corporate responsibility, sustainability, ESG or integrated reports. Announcements about awards, ratings and rankings were up 9 percent.

While the number of corporate stories about volunteering and community involvement declined due to COVID-19 limitations, engagement was up 8 percent.

“Even with rise and declines in certain subject areas, it’s crucial for companies to discuss their ESG initiatives in a comprehensive way – especially sharing the less exciting work they are doing so industries, peers, employees and consumers alike know that they are doing the real work in some of these sectors,” said Rachael Mason, vice president of client services at 3BL Media. “The only way to increase brand recognition and drive improvement with ratings and rankings agencies is to be transparent and share stories, both big and small.”

3BL Media’s data analysis included 8,200 flexible media releases from corporate and nonprofit clients that use the 3BL Professional ESG content distribution and analysis platform in 2021.

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