Room to Improve Shareholder Communications as Sustainability is Now Considered Smarter Business

The following post was written by Jane Madden, Managing Director, U.S. Corporate Responsibility, and Elizabeth Woodworth, Manager, U.S. Healthcare Practice.

In 2016, Burson-Marsteller’s Corporate Responsibility Practice, together with our sister firm PSB, published the research report, “Is Your ESG Report Getting Noticed by Investors?” which found that institutional investors say a company with strong ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance, the three main factors that measure the sustainability and ethical impact of a business) initiatives is a more attractive investment.

At last week’s Bloomberg Sustainable Business Summit in New York City, we found that investors were the topic of discussion. We heard from leaders that more institutional investors are now thinking of ESG less as a separate investment evaluation input and more as data that provides additional insights into to how businesses operate and their growth trajectory. In fact, ESG is being viewed more closely in line with traditional financial data than ever before.

The theme of the summit was “Sustainability is Good Business,” a sentiment held by many in the business community. In fact, Burson-Marsteller and PSB’s research found that 77 percent of surveyed investors say building ESG initiatives into a company’s business model – the associated costs, risks and benefits of these issues – is a smart business decision. But surprisingly, leaders across various sectors noted there are gaps that hamper investors’ understanding of the value ESG initiatives bring to the business. As Morgan Stanley’s Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Sustainability Officer Audrey Choi noted, “There’s an epidemic of silent interest in ESG among investors.” So, why is the interest silent?

Three themes we identified throughout the two-day summit are, in our view, important in understanding how investors are thinking about sustainability and where the communications opportunities are to improve the dialogue between businesses and their shareholders.

1) Speaking the Same Language: While consumers now demand more “sustainability” efforts from companies, investors as a broader group do not yet speak the language of sustainability. There is a lot of room to improve communications around how ESG is related to financial performance. A more open and proactive dialogue with investors is critical to clarifying that many of the issues they are already thinking about –the cost of carbon, to board diversity. human rights issues – are also sustainability issues, they just aren’t using the same terminology as the Chief Sustainability Officer. In addition, using the right financial vocabulary helps investors understand material ESG data, risks and opportunities.

2) Combine Short and Long-Term Outlooks: Aligning the short and long-term views of standard financial and ESG reporting by coordinating Investor Relations and Sustainability departments is another key theme. While investors and IR teams usually think quarter to quarter and by fiscal year, sustainability and ESG operate on longer timelines. If you are lucky, as Jay Gould, President & CEO of Interface said, you have a board of directors who thinks on a 20-30-year timeline. But both short-term financial performance and longer-term sustainability should be communicated to investors in parallel to illustrate healthy performance, identify opportunities that lead to innovation and note risks that can be mitigated. Sustainability leaders ranging from Dave Stangis, VP-Corporate Responsibly and Chief Sustainability Office of the Campbell Soup Company to JetBlue’s President and CEO Robin Hayes spoke about a greater need to coordinate Investor Relations and Sustainability teams to align the short and long-term nature of these analyses, which can then improve value reporting to shareholders and other stakeholders.

3) Engage to Control Your Message: As Ingrid Dyott, Managing Director at Neuberger Berman noted, ESG are business issues, which are issues investors should care about. But ESG is still a subtle concept for many, so you need to get ahead of your communications before someone else does it for you. From an institutional perspective, look closely at who is behind the investment. Dyott noted, for example, that pension funds are a bourgeoning area for ESG investing because teachers, firefighters and police officers inherently care about sustainability issues and the impact of their investments. And now with a growing Millennial population making investments (by 2025 they will make up 75 percent of the workforce and are two times as likely to back an investment product that aligns with their values, says Morgan Stanley’s Audrey Choi), asset managers should be thinking of these investments not only according to financial risk and reward – but also impact, and what the nature of that impact is. These investor groups have certain expectations and asset managers and IR teams should insert their POV into the narrative before investors do it for you.

There is a rapidly growing consensus that sustainability is good business and drives innovation. Now the opportunity is to further integrate investor relations, sustainability planning and ESG into standard financial reporting and cohesive investor communications. Doing so can help clarify the material and non-material value of these initiatives in the language your investors speak and illustrate the trend that purpose and performance are increasingly one in the same.

Virtual Reality’s Biggest Misconceptions

For more than 25 years Virtual Reality has often been viewed as an expensive gimmick to make dinosaurs come to life or make video games more immersive. Despite the fact the VR can be a powerful tool, preconceptions about VR are still holding people back from taking full advantage of it. So let’s bust some of the misconceptions about Virtual Reality, right here, right now:  


  1. It’s too expensive – For years now, VR has been way too expensive for general use. However, headsets are actually getting cheaper – the Daydream is only around £70 and Samsung Gear VR just over £100. Also major tech companies WANT NGO’s and charities to make VR content. Facebook has founded ‘VR for good’ encouraging charitable projects involving VR  and the ‘Lighthouse Programme’ by Google offers funding, use of halo cameras and stitching services.


  1. No one can watch it –  Many think that VR has a high barrier to entry but even distribution is improving thanks to the continued progress of Facebook and Youtube’s 360 platforms and the popularity of Google Cardboard.


  1. Motion Sickness – There’s been reported issues of motion sickness due to time lag and movement. However, in our film for Rotary we used a teddy bear as a device to mitigate against issues of movement and motion sickness.


  1. Complex Production –  Capturing 360 degrees around you is more like theatre than film in terms of how you capture and choreograph it, but this can be overcome by planning. There’s also the opportunity to shoot a traditional film at the same time in order to maximise on assets and use one to promote the other.


  1. What’s the point? – Virtual reality gives us a unique opportunity to build empathy, deepen emotional narratives and really put viewers into someone else’s shoes. We proved this with our VR experience for NAS.


VR is no longer just a fad, it’s a powerful piece of technology that has unfortunately been overlooked and misused, never reaching its full potential. We are now in a position of understanding of being able work at the forefront of VR, keep narrative at the heart of experiences and really make a difference.

The post Virtual Reality’s Biggest Misconceptions appeared first on Don’t Panic London.

Effective Content Marketing: Hub content

In this series, we’re going to look more closely at the Hero, Hub and Hygiene model that can be used as a strategic framework to create content to. We’ll look at each type of content in more depth, as well as some examples, where you should place it and how to make it work for your business.

Hub content is typically aligned with targeted marketing campaigns that are staggered throughout the year.

Hub content is defined by Google as a ‘push’ activity, and we agree. Hub content is designed to be actively pushed out to your audience. This can be done with social media or email, in order to activate your audience. It’s also worth considering having this hub content appear at regular intervals in your customer journey.

Hub content is exactly what it says on the tin, and should contain a ‘hub’ of knowledge about a topic. A series of blog posts can be a hub, as can a series of videos about one topic.

Hub content should be looking to educate your audience where possible. Expert opinions really come into their own in Hub content, so if you have experts, you should be making the most of them.

When should you produce Hub content?

Think about the content that you’ve been producing lately. Have you been producing a lot around a similar theme? Or is it in a series?

If the answer is yes, then you’ve got the good foundations for Hub content. Typically, you’ll just need to pull this all together into a centralised place – a hub.

Example of Hub Content

A great example of Hub content that many digital marketers know (or should know) of is Moz’s Whiteboard Fridays.

moz whiteboard friday

Whiteboard Friday (WBF) is a good example of Hub content as it hits all of Google’s Hub content best practices.

  • WBF, and Rand (Fishkin, the host), have a strong editorial voice and a strong, distinct style. Even if Rand is not hosting, which he sometimes isn’t, the clear style of drawing on a whiteboard makes it very obviously a WBF video.
  • Rand is a good example of a single, identifiable personality that appears in pretty much all of the WBF videos.
  • There is a consistent visual language across all the videos. The format is simple, yet easily identifiable.
  • Moz communicates with their audience about the release of the videos, and there is a clear release schedule (hint: the clue is in the name). Their promotion strategy is evident across channels.

All of this shows that Moz listens to Google’s best practices. This, combined with Rand’s love of 10x content, means that Moz has become the expert name for SEO.

If your hubs are getting a good amount of traffic, it’s time to step it up a notch and start to think about creating some Hero content.

Want to take your content to the next level? Find out how we can help create a content hub for you. Just drop us a line below.

Related posts:

The post Effective Content Marketing: Hub content appeared first on Harvest Digital ™.

11 Phrases That Can Ruin Your Performance Review

Don’t sabotage your review with poorly chosen words or phrases–the meeting is too important to risk verbal missteps.

Between the feeling of being thrust into the spotlight, the one-on-one setting with your manager, and the gravity of what’s at stake, performance reviews can feel pretty uncomfortable. And when you’re made to feel uncomfortable, sometimes you aren’t always the most conscious of (or careful with) your words. But if there’s one time that you want to communicate effectively, it’s then. After all, your performance review is often the one chance you get to push for a raise, secure a promotion, or even save your job.

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Audi Unleashes Tactical, Data-Driven Roadside Campaign

The award-winning production and creative technology company, Grand Visual, has produced a smart, data-driven digital OOH campaign for Audi UK to enhance the brand’s agility in the digital space and increase awareness of the advanced intelligent technologies available in their latest models. The campaign runs across premium roadside screens on a nationwide scale from 16th October – 29th October.

Created by BBH and produced by Grand Visual, the campaign will bring the latest assistance technologies to life using traffic, time and weather data to trigger content that is contextually relevant at each location. For example, when the traffic is heavy, the creative will alert drivers to the ‘Pre-Sense’ feature; Audi’s in-built technology package for predictive safety. During adverse weather, creative will change to feature ‘quattro-on-demand’; Audi’s renowned all-wheel drive technology which brings safety, sportiness and performance to driving – ideal for rain, snow or hail conditions. The hero concept of “Audi as your sixth sense” will also feature.

The dynamic campaign is managed and distributed through digital OOH ad tech platform OpenLoop, which analyses Transport API’s and weather data and triggers the relevant creative for each roadside location. The media was planned and booked by Omnicom Media Group’s PHD and Talon and spans 211 screens, across 9 key cities.

Benjamin Braun, Head of Marketing, Audi UK, said:

“This is the first data-driven digital OOH campaign we have launched on a national scale. By using data to contextualise copy, we can reach drivers with targeted and tactical advertising messages that are relevant throughout the day, tapping into the driver’s mindset in the moment. That is powerful.”

Dan Dawson, Chief Creative Technology Officer at Grand Visual, added:

“This campaign is a great fit for a brand that continues to be at the forefront of vehicle intelligence technology. Thanks to pioneering brands like Audi, data innovation in OOH is really beginning to take off. Data and technology coming together to complement idea-led communication and become the new creative standard.”

Ria Bradley, Client Director at Talon, said:

“This is a great example of how we can integrate developing technology for a progressive client into contextually relevant media, amplified on over 200 screens in five Out of Home formats throughout the UK.”

The post Audi Unleashes Tactical, Data-Driven Roadside Campaign appeared first on Grand Visual Creative.

Downtime: Santia Nance’s hoop dreams

Richmond Biz Sense

By Jonathan Spiers

When Santia Nance finished college in 2010, she found her life outside of work spinning in circles.

So, naturally, she picked up a hula hoop.

After googling “hooping” and taking a local class, the VCU grad, now a media planner at local ad giant The Martin Agency, found a pastime and passion she’s pursued ever since.

Recently promoted to media planning supervisor, Nance’s workdays are spent in the thick of Richmond’s biggest creative shop, strategizing media placements for ad campaigns for clients such as Land O’Lakes and pudding maker Kozy Shack.

But while her job is in the heart of the creative think tank, Nance said her own creativity comes out when she’s hooping.

“It’s like yoga in a way: it makes you feel at peace, it makes you feel yourself,” she said. “It makes you feel happy, because it’s so nostalgic, and you’re focused on something else versus thinking about other things. You’re just in your zone.”

Active with local hoop group RVA Hoop House, Nance can be spotted spinning hoops around town in group sessions and events such as Inlight Richmond, when she’s encircled with LED-illuminated hoops. She’s performed in theater showcases and in a burlesque show at Gallery5, often under her stage name, Santobella Spark. She’s even picked up fire hooping, spinning a circle of flames to the point that they make a whooshing sound.

“When you’re fire-hooping, you hear it. The rush is to hear it,” she said. “It’s hot!”

A Hampton native, Nance first picked up on hooping in high school, motivated in part by an unlikely source: Hilary Duff as Lizzie McGuire.

“For some reason I was obsessed with the Disney Channel in high school. (Duff) did this thing where she was a rhythmic gymnastics person or something, and she threw the hula hoop in the air, did a cartwheel and then caught it. I was like, ‘I’m going to do that!’”

After graduating from VCU with a degree in creative advertising, Nance revisited the activity when she found herself idle outside of a part-time job with Radio Disney.

“I was real bored. I didn’t have a job really. I was like, ‘What do I do?’” Nance said.

“In 2010, I just made it up in my head that this has to be a thing, so I googled it. That’s when I found my hoop mama, Stacey Firefly,” she said. “She’s one of the originators in Richmond who was hula hooping.”

Nance signed up for one of her now-mentor’s classes at Dogtown Dance Theatre, and she’s been hooping ever since.

“It was Oct. 13, 2010 – my hoopiversary. That’s a real thing,” she said, laughing.

Watch Santia Nance Hooping Outside The Martin Agency

When she’s not spinning her hoops or dancing in circles of flames, Nance said she’s found joy in her work at The Martin Agency since joining the firm in 2013, specifically planning digital media placements for campaigns.

“We have to figure out where the best place is to put the advertising,” she said. “Not necessarily just thinking about is it on TV or a magazine or a website; it’s usually which website, which TV show, which time, what makes the most sense and what’s the cheapest and what’s going to actually get people to do what you want them to do. A lot goes into that thinking.”

Focused on strategy at work, Nance said she releases her creative side out of the office in her performances, which she choreographs herself.

“I try really hard to come up with something unique for each event,” she said.

And when she’s not performing onstage as Santobella Spark, Nance said she helps “spread the hoop love” in group hooping sessions and community outreach events, helping first-timers pick it up and pinpoint difficulties.

Laughing, she said: “People call me the hoop whisperer.”

Watch Santia Nance Hoop With Fire

Embracing the Role of the Underdog

“Underdogs” are defined as those that are predicted to lose in a struggle or competition. Yet, in the advertising world, it is possible to capitalize and market the underdog effectively so that it succeeds. Here are five things we found about the underdog effect in advertising and how it can succeed its bigger competitors.

  1. An underdog narrative that is grounded in determination and a little bit of hard luck can improve a brand’s attractiveness, relevance, purchase intent, and loyalty.
  2. Many consumers can identify with the disadvantaged position of the underdog and share that same passion and determination to succeed even when the odds are against them.
  3. Underdog companies appeal especially to those in traditionally disadvantaged segments– such as ethnic minorities, women and blue collar workers.
  4. The stronger one’s own sense of struggling is, the greater one prefers to support the underdog brand.
  5. The underdog effect transcends cultural boundaries and resonates especially during tough economical times.

A good example of a successful underdog narrative is our campaign for NEFCU, a credit union in New York City.


Winning Awards

The British have a very specific way of receiving accolades. We’re taught from a very young age to win well but lose better. Be humble. Be self-effacing. Don’t make a big deal of it. It’s the taking part that counts. All very Olympian and playing fields of Eton.

Bit tricky when you’re writing a blog about winning awards though.

Best be straight to the point.

Here’s the thing. Tonic’s had a great 12-months. Great clients. Great projects. Great team. Cracking results. And we’ve won a bunch of awards. The good ones.

  • Recruitment Business Awards 2017 – Grand Prix & Agency of the Year
  • CIPD Recruitment Marketing Awards 2017 – Grand Prix
  • Employer Brand Management Awards 2017 – Grand Prix
  • RAD Awards 2017 – Work of the Year
  • Recruitment Business Awards 2016 – Grand Prix & Agency of the Year

And more than 20 others with clients as diverse as The British Army, PoliceNow, RBS and FirstNames Group.

The question I’d be asking if I were you is how? What can I replicate? What’s the secret sauce? I could tell you, but I’m not going to. You’ll have to speak to us if you want to get the detail.  But – if you want to win some awards – here are some tips that might help:

Work with great clients

Critical. Find the people who share your values. The people that share your ambition. The people, not the business/organisation/authority, are the most important ingredient by a country mile. Dull businesses don’t lack in adventure because of who they are – but because of the people that work there. Find the right clients and collaborate as hard as you can. You can’t do this alone.

Get a great partner

See above. But change the terminology. Find the people who share your values. The people that share your ambition. The people, not the agency/assessment provider/RPO, are the most important ingredient by a country mile. Dull partners are not boring because of who they are – but because of the people that work there. Find the right partners and collaborate as hard as you can. You can’t do this alone.


But not in a wishy-washy way. Fight dogma and convention. Always be curious, never be complacent. Look hard for the right idea and be prepared to battle for it. Use your imagination. Don’t settle for second best. Repeat.


I mean really do care. Care about the relationships you have with your client/partner. Care about the goal you have to achieve. Care about the impact you’ll have on your business. Care about the people whose lives you’ll change. Care about the end product and care about why you’re doing this.

Don’t worry

Sometimes you’ll succeed, sometimes you won’t. Sometimes it’ll be easy, mainly it won’t. If a project/campaign goes well, celebrate. If it doesn’t, learn and don’t let it happen again. If you let worry consume you, if you let fear of failure get in the way, then you’ll kill your creativity and ambition.

Use the data & your gut instinct

In equal measure. Listen hard to reality. Data can help make the right decisions (and it will certainly help awards judges). Make sure it’s giving you the right metric rather than the red-herring. Mitigate against disaster. Look for the deeper thought rather than the surface-scratching indicator. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Trust your judgement.

Tell a great story

Make the case. Not only in entering for awards. Also within your business. Why this rather than that? A rather than B? What’s the underlying problem that you’re working to fix? What’s at stake? What’s to be gained? What’s the impact on the people you hire or the people you retain? What’s the logical case for action? What’s the emotional rationale? How do you want people to feel?

Of course winning isn’t everything. But it feels fantastic. RAD Awards 2018 are in for judging now. Good luck.

Tom #Humblebrag Chesterton

October 2017

The post Winning Awards appeared first on Tonic Agency.

Stories, programs and conversation: the role of LGBT@Essence in our workplace

One of our goals at Essence is to make sure everyone feels cared for; that’s a key part of our people proposition. One way in which we commit to this proposition is through our LGBT@Essence affinity group, which is dedicated to:

– Providing training and information and raising awareness of issues the LGBT+ community faces in and out of the workplace

– Ensuring Essence is fully experienced as a safe space for LGBT+ people to work

– Celebrating the diversity of the LGBT+ community through a range of events

Led by LGBT@Essence, we commemorated National Coming Out Day this week. We gathered coming out stories from team members in every office, from both LGBT+ people and allies of LGBT+, and shared them globally. They’re stories of love, pain, community, insecurity and so much more, but no matter the tale, all stories feature someone embracing and declaring their identity. In sharing these stories, LGBT@Essence has created a catalyst for conversation and expanded allies’ understanding of such a personal milestone.

The group doesn’t only focus on key dates in the LGBT+ annual calendar. We’ve partnered with Stonewall, a UK-based non-profit working for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans equality, and joined the organization’s Diversity Champions program. Through this program, we have access to educational materials and resources to further the dialogue about identity and equality and help us continue to build a workplace that’s welcoming to all people.

Whether it’s sharing stories, running workshops, or facilitating conversations between LGBT+ people and allies, we create initiatives to make sure all people feel cared for at Essence. LGBT@Essence truly embodies our people proposition.

Job vacancy: Senior social media executive


We’re searching for a senior social media executive to join our growing social media team, and you could be just who we’re after.

At Together we have an eclectic range of social media clients, including food and drink brands like Pukka Pies, Fox’s biscuits and Licor 43, and we need someone that can help us to manage and engage their communities. As our senior social media executive, you’ll also schedule and create content, assist strategy development  compile reports, and take part in client meetings.

1-2 years of professional experience in social media is essential, whether agency or client-side. We’re looking for someone with the right personality who has the confidence – and enthusiasm – to tackle this varied client-facing role.

To be considered for the position, you’ll need to show that you’re:

  • Confident, self-assured and persuasive in client-facing situations
  • A good communicator with excellent listening skills
  • Able to build great relationships with clients, suppliers, and your colleagues
  • Highly organised, especially under pressure
  • Able to prioritise and use your initiative
  • Bright, quick to learn, and brilliant with words and numbers
  • Positive and enthusiastic with a can-do attitude.

You’ll also need:

  • A good degree in any subject
  • Excellent writing and grammar skills
  • Good numeracy skills
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office
  • Ability to travel to client locations anywhere in the UK and abroad (UK driving license desirable)
  • A demonstrable interest in social media, whether that’s through a personal blog or other social channel
  • Knowledge of marketing, brands, digital, design and communications.

The details

The position is full time from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5:30pm, though you may need to work extra hours during busy periods. Ideally, we’d like someone who could start at the end of November. Salary from £21k to £25k, depending on experience.

How to apply

Interested? Send your CV and cover letter to with the subject line ‘Job vacancy: Senior social media executive’ by the end of Wednesday 25th October.

The post Job vacancy: Senior social media executive appeared first on we think.