Creating reports that do a lot of heavy lifting

The Challenge

Most companies now publish an annual sustainability or ESG report, summarizing their annual progress against their stated environmental and social goals. There are multiple problems with how most of these are created today:

  • Most reports aren’t clear on the audience, so they speak to nobody.
  • Most reports take an “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink” approach. That makes it hard for the reader to find the information they’re looking for.
  • Most reports are built as stand-alone outputs without a holistic strategy for how they can be multipurposed for ongoing communications, all geared towards gaining a market advantage as a result of the company’s environmental and social efforts.

The Solution

Shelton Group’s approach to all reports is:

  • Start first by building a Communications Construct – the story strategy and narrative that will undergird all sustainability communications, including the report
  • Then get very clear about who we’re talking to and what they most care about and want to hear, building out a Messaging Matrix to align key messages and proof points with the right audience, all under the umbrella of the Construct.
  • Then we approach the report in that way, crafting the entire report or core sections of the report for distinct audiences. Tin other words, sometimes there’s simply one report, layered in such a way that a casual reader can find what they’re looking for easily and a more data-driven reader can find their information too. Sometimes the report isn’t “a” report, but a full report with a handful of smaller reports, infographics or decks that present the story in different ways to each audience. That way we ensure we’re including the right data and stories and using the right words to appeal to our most important audiences.
  • We also build the reports so sections can be repurposed for multiple uses. For instance, we believe in overviews of a company’s vision or goals against progress that can easily be pulled out and dropped into an investor relations or sales team deck. We also believe in including infographics that can be repurposed on social and, again, in presentations.
  • Lastly, the report should be one piece of a broader sustainability or ESG communications plan, all flowing form the initial narrative, the Communications Construct.

The Work