The following example shows a strategic approach to developing a CSR/ ESG Communications Plan aligned with the goals and principles of the CSR program and the wider organizational strategy.
Outcomes from stakeholder engagement will have informed the strategy to provide the overview of stakeholder engagement. The staff survey will contribute information to the staff engagement section of the plan.
The final CSR/ ESG Communications Plan should include the following:
- Objective and introduction – What does the plan aim to achieve (include input from stakeholder engagement and staff engagement)? What are the benefits to your audience of being engaged with CSR? Outline for readers the purpose of engagement, and link to the CSR Strategy Action Plan to illustrate work already underway and ongoing projects
- Audiences– Who should we communicate with? (Utilize output from stakeholder mapping.)
- Subjects – Which topics of communication will the plan focus on? Consider areas highlighted by stakeholders, including staff. Typical topics for communication may include: energy awareness, water awareness, sustainable buying and waste awareness, sustainability in travel choices, health and well-being awareness, ethics and inclusivity awareness, and new technology awareness
- Key messages – Consider what to tell your audiences for each topic; the message may need to be different for certain stakeholders and groups
- Timescales – Identify the intended launch date of communication programs, and work backwards to ensure there is sufficient time to get the appropriate messages across to the selected audiences. Consider any nationally or internationally relevant themes with which communication programs can be linked, e.g. World Health Day, Earth Hour, and Sustainability Week
- Communication channels – What are the existing communications channels for each of your audiences? The stakeholder engagement process will already have helped to identify these. A mix of channels will reach the broadest audience. For example, consider the Internet, intranet, posters, email, pay slips, newsletters, managers’ weekly meetings, briefing papers, podcasts, webinars and desk drops. Map out in the plan what the most effective ways of communicating with your audience will be for each topic. What is the most appropriate format for your audience to receive and understand the messages?
- Queries and feedback – How will staff ask questions or provide feedback? Is there a helpline number or an email address? Will there be a different process during the ‘go-live’ period from during ‘business as usual’?
Having agreed a clear communications strategy, you can proceed to develop a plan that details who you want to communicate with, what you want to communicate, and how you are going to do it.
Photo: Thanks to Markus Spiske for sharing their work on Unsplash.
Article: How to write an effective ESG Communications Plan