Category: Energy

Unleashing The Potential of Onshore Wind: Insights from the UK’s first onshore wind conference

By Paul Noonan, Content and Insight Director

As a home-grown, home-blown power source that is now nine times cheaper than gas, terrestrial wind power could transform our energy security and affordability and pave a faster path to net zero. Yet with the UK needing to double its onshore wind capacity to remain on course for net zero by 2030 and just two turbines installed in the whole of England last year, we risk being blown off-course for decarbonisation. And the government has been criticised for rowing back on plans to ease stringent planning restrictions amidst fierce resistance from rural MPs and local groups.

I recently attended the UK’s first ever conference on onshore wind uniting leading lights from government, industry and charities to discuss how we could unleash the potential of onshore wind without damaging local environments or alienating communities. The stellar speaker line-up included the Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Net Zero, the Chairman of the Net Zero Committee and representatives from Energy UK, the Local Government Association, The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, the Nature Conservancy and the Centre for Sustainable Energy. They revealed how democratisation and localisation, holistic ‘whole system’ planning and transparent, reliable data could finally break the deadlock and detoxify onshore wind. Here were three themes that emerged.

Democratisation and localisation, not compensation

Democratising and localising wind farm development is essential so that wind farms benefit local people and places as well the planet. Communities cannot be ‘bought off’ with compensation from developers but want to be given a genuine say and a real stake in wind farm development. This means giving communities real influence over planning decisions and an opportunity to share in the benefits of projects. Community workshops could be established asking local people to list their favourite views so that wind farms are carefully sited to avoid impeding their enjoyment of nature.

Public tenders for wind projects must focus not only on cost but on creating local content and supply chains so that wind farms create jobs and opportunities for their neighbours. Communities should also be helped to make energy savings through local wind farms and the chance to profit from peer-to-peer energy markets or community-run wind schemes. One developer even gave local communities equity stakes in their neighbouring wind farm.

Transparent decision-making through smart data

Innovations such as data analytics and digital modelling could create more transparent, democratic wind farm development. Developers could give local community and environmental groups virtual tours of proposed sites for wind farms digitally modelling the impact on everything from popular views to bird migration routes. This would enable collaborative planning decisions between communities and developers based on transparent, accurate data.

We could create multi-layered digital maps combining engineering, wildlife, land-use and population data to ensure windfarms are optimally positioned for minimal impact on communities and biodiversity. And a national land-use database could map the best sites for wind farms based on everything from wind to topography data to give each local authority a well-informed series of options for communities to consider. Crucially, transparent methodologies for measuring environmental impact such as the Nature Conservancy’s Site Wind Right tool could ensure spatial planning for wind farms minimises or mitigates environmental damage.

Holistic ‘whole system’ infrastructure planning

A disjointed, point-to-point model of development where each wind farm has to make its own grid interconnection means that power systems are not evolving in sync with renewables. We need to design electric and renewable grids holistically as a joined-up ecosystem designed to intersect around the most cost-effective way to bring clean energy to the masses.

Multi-layered digital maps modelling future power systems and wind farms could be merged with population data to ensure transmission lines and wind farms are designed to intersect and connect with future population centres. In this way, connected data from multiple sources could create more collaborative, joined-up renewable and electric infrastructure.

Mapping the way forward:

The Net Zero Committee says the UK needs to double the installed capacity of onshore wind by 2030 to make net zero affordable and achieve decarbonisation. Yet the omens are not looking good, with the pipeline of wind projects drying up under an effective 10-year moratorium on construction. Only 11% of local authorities have even identified possible sites for new construction because of confusion over where and how to build in a way that achieves democratic consent. What emerged from this event is that transparent, reliable smart data is the key to building bridges between wind developers and local communities so that wind farms can peacefully coexist with nature and their human neighbours.

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The nuclear-sized hole at the heart of the green hydrogen vision

By Paul Noonan, Lead Copywriter, Energy and Industrials 

Clean hydrogen has long been hailed as the green lifeblood of the future economy, helping store and circulate renewable energy across sectors and decarbonise hard-to-abate industries and heavy transport. It is at the heart of the energy transition, holding the promise of decarbonising sectors that cannot be easily electrified and even providing the Holy Grail of dispatchable renewable power in the form of hydrogen gas-fired power stations. It is also central to Europe’s energy security with the EU aiming to replace 27 bcm of imported Russian gas with 20 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen. Yet green hydrogen is currently little more than a pipe dream because Europe’s policymakers have set pie-in-the-sky policy-driven timelines without being honest about the practical steps to achieving them and the enormous energy costs involved.

Few realise that the EU’s target of 10 million tonnes of home-grown hydrogen by 2030 would consume the equivalent of Germany’s entire annual power consumption, which could max out our electric grids. The EU also aims to create hydrogen entirely from new renewable energy capacity to avoid diverting clean power from other applications. This would require a 44% expansion of Europe’s renewable energy capacity at a time of rising renewable supply chain costs and constraints, exacerbating energy bills and worsening our reliance on rare-earth metals from China. In other words, green hydrogen could ironically worsen the very energy cost and energy security crises it was meant to solve.

Time to go nuclear

Nuclear energy could circumvent this entire problem by creating hydrogen electrolytically or even through direct use of heat from nuclear energy thus avoiding excessive new wind or solar construction and electricity use.  Crucially, much more renewable capacity would be needed to cover unpredictable swings in supply whereas nuclear provides a stable power source and thus needs less capacity. This means that producing a million metric tonnes of hydrogen would need just seven gigawatts of installed nuclear capacity compared with 22 gigawatts of onshore wind or 52 gigawatts of onshore solar.

Yet nuclear power is currently caught in a political tug-of-war between Germany and France and the fate of nuclear-produced hydrogen hangs in the balance. Nuclear has been excluded from the EU’s proposed list of renewable hydrogen power sources which is being considered by the European Parliament and Council and will form the investors’ guide to hydrogen. And there is now a major battle looming over whether nuclear can even qualify as “low-carbon hydrogen” with an EU methodology due to be agreed in 2024.

There is an urgent need for communications campaigns to outline the benefits of nuclear and the full implications of sole reliance on renewable electricity for hydrogen. As we transition to new energy, informed communications is vital to ensure that these immensely consequential decisions consider the widest array of technological options and are based on transparent, accurate data.  Otherwise, green hydrogen risks becoming the cure for our energy woes that is worse than the disease.

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Spotlight on: Singapore and the Energy Transition

In the 57 years since Singapore became independent, the country has undergone remarkable development, transforming rapidly from a low to high-income country, and with some of the world’s highest GDP growth today. The city-state’s rapid industrialisation in the 1960s set it on the path to swift development, with manufacturing and the services sector becoming the back-bone of Singapore’s economy. Just 10 years later, it reached full employment and became a fully fledged newly industrialised economy, alongside its Asian peers such as Hong Kong SAR, Republic of Korea and Taiwan. Now, however, the small island-state is in the midst of another up-hill battle – transitioning to renewable energy to meet decarbonisation goals, whilst ensuring energy demand is consistently met.

In 2021, Singapore established a national net-zero plan entitled the Singapore Green Plan 2030. With the power sector accounting for 40% of the country’s emissions, decarbonising the electricity sector is a high priority to meet their climate goals. Fifty years ago, Singapore relied heavily on oil, but over the past half century has transitioned towards natural gas, which releases considerably less CO2. However, with the recent global call for renewables, Singapore has been looking for alternative energy sources that will meet demand while matching global climate goals. So, how is it planning to navigate the energy transition?

Geographical constraints

Singapore is not naturally endowed when it comes to renewable energy potential. Its small land mass and high population means domestically grown sustainable biomass is not an option, nor is the development of nuclear power. The average wind speed in Singapore is just 2m/s, meaning commercial wind turbines (which normally operate at wind speeds of around 4.5m/s) are also not a viable path forward. A small tidal range and relatively calm sea axes the possibility of tidal power, and with much of Singapore’s sea space already cluttered by ports and shipping lanes, ocean energy technologies also remain out of reach. With no fast-flowing river systems, hydroelectric power is unattainable, nor can the country rely on any geothermal energy sources.

Singapore’s hidden talents

But hope is not lost, due to Singapore’s technological prowess and ability to quickly adapt to an evolving global energy landscape. Moreover, with Singapore’s high average annual solar irradiation, solar power is a strong potential option for renewable energy. And while this also won’t be an easy feat, with Singapore’s aforementioned small land pass posing a problem when it comes to large scale deployment of solar panels (not to mention frequent cloudy conditions and urban shading) the city state is currently in the process of researching and trialling options for solar PV systems in order to maximise the potential for solar energy, with the lofty goal of deploying at least 2 gigawatt-peak of solar energy by 2030, the equivalent of 350,000 households for a year.

And, while options such as nuclear currently remain beyond reach, the innovate Singaporeans continue to research ways to harness the technology, alongside exploring a plethora of different options, ranging from regional power grids and low-carbon hydrogen to carbon capture, utilisation and storage.

The future of Singapore’s journey

What is certain is that the future of Singapore’s energy transition is going to be one to watch, with serious potential for investment and development of renewable energy in the country. If you are keen to branch out and build your renewable presence in Singapore, then talk to us at Aspectus where we can expertly guide you through your energy communications from our Singapore PR agency to help quickly boost your next stage of growth. Get in touch here.

Nuala O’Sullivan, Account Executive, Energy team

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The blue economy: don’t fall into the buzzword trap at this year’s Subsea Expo

By Louise Douglas, Senior Account Director, Energy & Industrials 

The term ‘blue economy’ is not new, but it has had a new lease of life in the era of the energy transition. You’ve probably seen it mentioned in many government pledges, industry articles or corporate strategies. And it’s the leading theme at Subsea Expo this year.

But what does it really mean? More importantly, do you know what it means to your business? Questions you’ll need to know the answers to ahead of this year’s largest annual subsea exhibition and conference.

What is the blue economy?

The European Commission defines it as, “all economic activities related to oceans, seas and coasts, whilst the World Bank describes it as the “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem.” Although the term has been used in different ways, sustainability is the golden thread that runs through it.

And with greenwashing scandals rising like our sea levels, sustainability is not a term that should be used loosely without careful consideration.

What’s the business potential?

In 2021 the European Commission proposed a new approach to the blue economy off the back of the pandemic, ensuring a more sustainable approach as part of the green deal. With a recent report showcasing the blue economy provides 4.5 million direct jobs and generates over 650 billion euro in turnover in Europe alone. So, there’s a lot of pressure on getting it right.

This means investing in innovative technologies such as wave and tidal energy, floating wind, waste management and using ports as crucial greener energy hubs. This opens the door to a range of companies who are already excelling at these technologies and innovations. And discussing at Subsea Expo how these businesses must work together to maximise the blue economic opportunities will be key.

But understanding how your company fits within the blue economy is the easy part. It’s getting your communications right that can prove challenging.

Why getting the marketing right is crucial

A word of warning to event attendees… “Oh no, not another buzzword,” is not what you want your audiences to think when they read your external communications. Many businesses can make the mistake of using terms or claims without any real substance or proof points behind them.

Coca Cola is a good example of this when it launched it’s ‘World Without Waste’ marketing campaign, leaving out that it produces 3 million tons of plastic packaging per year. Needless to say, it was not received well.

This can give a negative preconception of your brand, inserting uncertainty around where you stand on important industry challenges.

Simply put, trust can be easily lost.

This is where messaging comes in. Clear and concise messaging is a must to separate you from your competition and to ensure your target markets know what you stand for. And this doesn’t just mean external messaging. Internal communication is just as important to maintain a strong brand identity. It’s also essential to use this messaging in the right way, targeting the right media and platforms for your brand. Done right, it can attract the right attention from potential recruits to investors and key journalists.

To avoid falling into the buzzword trap and to create meaningful communications, a second pair of eyes and ears can be what’s needed. A specialist partner to challenge your thinking, who isn’t afraid to not be a yes man or woman.

This is where a specialist brand, marketing and communications agency can provide you with a wealth of experience.

The good, the bad and the ugly, we’ve seen it all.

If you’d like to avoid being caught up in the next greenwashing wave or simply would like some advice on communications, get in touch with a member of our energy team.

Meet us at this year’s Subsea Expo to discuss more. Email:

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Can we bridge the divide between local communities and onshore wind developers?

By Paul Noonan, Lead Copywriter on the Energy and Industrials team.

Renewable energy growth is currently tangled in knots of local planning bureaucracy with onshore wind foundering on fierce opposition from local communities and environmental groups. We need 1200 GW of new renewable capacity each year to reach net zero yet four times more wind energy is bogged down in permitting delays than is being built in Europe alone.  Governments are now under growing pressure to fast-track renewable construction by overriding local communities and environmental groups. Yet this could mean rolling back decades of progress in putting local people and the environment at the heart of infrastructure planning.

The top-down approach

In the US, a Bill by Democrat Senator Joe Manchin would significantly weaken state and community influence over energy infrastructure projects, and even allow federal agencies to unilaterally decide the route of new power lines. And in the UK, Opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer has similarly pledged to rip up red tape and reduce onshore wind planning processes from years to months, warning that “If that choice means some communities adapting to a new landscape….I will not hesitate to make it.” MPs are also calling for larger onshore wind projects to be designated Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) so they can be approved by the Business Secretary without local consent.  This is known as the Decide-Announce-Defend approach to infrastructure planning where authorities seek forgiveness instead of permission.

Yet research shows this technocratic, top-down approach hardens local opposition to renewable development and erodes the public support that will be vital to the energy transition.  Major wind projects have previously failed because developers shunned local groups, and attempts to centralise onshore wind planning in the UK face similarly stiff opposition from communities and countryside charities such as the CPRE.

Opponents are often portrayed as nimbyist obstructionists fighting to preserve property prices at the expense of the planet. Yet this ignores legitimate public concerns that local ecology is being sacrificed to national net zero policy, that the costs of renewable construction fall disproportionately on rural communities and that infrastructure is poorly designed when decisions are taken remotely by people far removed from the consequences. And wind farms can have many negative effects on the local environment, from degrading habitats to damaging biodiversity such as rare bat species.

Democratising wind-farm development

Could there be a third way that accelerates renewable development while protecting the local environment and winning over local people? Democratising and decentralising renewable development would dramatically boost public support for renewables, ensure more of the benefits accrue to affected communities and also create more holistic designs and planning decisions.

These must involve genuinely two-way communications campaigns harnessing local input to create inclusive, balanced infrastructure. For example, public acceptance increases when local people are given the chance to influence wind farm design and this could also help reduce the impact of designs on the local environment. Concerns over blighting scenic views could be alleviated by concealing windfarms within commercial forests. Citizens votes and forums such as the US Joint Transmission Taskforce could bring local people and infrastructure planners together so that decisions consider the broadest range of costs and benefits from local employment to biodiversity.

We could promote more local renewable energy markets and off-grid community-run wind and solar projects, ensuring local communities reap the benefits of nearby renewable development to offset the costs. By relieving pressure on the national grid, this would also reduce excessive demand for new energy and electricity infrastructure.

Communications and democratisation holds the key to uniting developers and communities, creating smart infrastructure that strikes a balance between national priorities and local people and between the global and local environment.

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DFS: Less about sofas and more about smart grids

By Catherine Hunter, Account Director, Energy and Industrials team Aspectus Group

This winter has seen a new service deployed by National Grid – the demand flexibility service (DFS). This is a new solution that encourages consumers to shift their behaviour towards matching the current demand on the grid. This could be saving up the washing till tomorrow, or simply delaying the start time till 3am and having fresh laundry for when you wake up. The way the service currently runs, is to encourage users to reduce output in pre-agreed time windows.

The service was set up to allow National Grid to manage periods of high demand on the grid – and largely when supply was lower. So, the typical, still, cold winter evening is when DFS is expected to be deployed. This is because, renewable output is lower with no solar or wind supply the grid. But also because we look to turn up the heating and oven as we return home from work and some industrial plants are still operating. This would suggest 4 till 6 in a cold evening is the most likely time this service will be needed. But really this service demonstrates a glimpse into our smart grid future.

DFS to date

The service was introduced in winter 2022/2023 following a successful trial with Octopus Energy on whether consumers will change their behaviour. There are, however, a number of factors at play to be involved with the current DFS operations.

This service is open to as many participants as possible who meet the following requirements:

  • All assets would require half-hourly (HH) metering.
  • All assets must be able to respond for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  • 1 MW min unit size/100 MW max unit size.
  • Providers need to be able to respond to an instruction for day-ahead delivery.
  • Providers must provide relevant HH metering and baselining data to demonstrate delivery of demand reduction.

And so largely, if you have a smart meter and a supplier that has signed up, you can be involved in the current DFS service – today about 1 million customers are signed up. But this is a move that is going to continue to grow as we build a smart grid.

Where from here?

DFS proves that households are able to tweak their energy usage habits – without compromising on living standards – although delaying a toddler’s teatime might be a risk too far! As more renewables come onto the grid, we are in a unique position where we might not only be encouraged to reduce use at certain times, we might be encouraged to increase use energy at times of high supply.

This creates a future where certain choices around energy consumption, could be determined by the weather or the needs of the grid, rather than our usual routine.

Communicating this change

And while DFS and other smart grid, flexibility services are exciting to those in the industry. There’s a risk that consumers don’t react well to such innovations. Fears they’re sitting in the cold and dark to keep the grid online can only grow as more knowledge about this service becomes known. We currently have a million, engaged households involved with DFS but we could grow this service to include EV charging and more households. But we want them enthused by the prospect of turning down their usage, rather than resenting the change and being turned off net zero.

At Aspectus, we are a specialist energy communications agency so can support with messaging, online content, and brand awareness for such changes. Get in touch if you’d like to know more.

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3 reasons why an apprenticeship is the perfect steppingstone for a career in PR and digital marketing

By Emilio Koumis, Apprentice

What to do after you leave school is a question that many students consider. Is university the right decision for them? Or is getting hands on experience in the form of an apprenticeship the way forward? Below are three key benefits of why an apprenticeship could be for you.

1) Hands on experience

Hands on experience in a real-world setting is important in any industry you go in to, and an apprenticeship can provide just that! It is invaluable for understanding the fundamentals of PR and developing the skills necessary to succeed within the sector. You are given the opportunity to work alongside experienced professionals, learning how to craft effective press releases, pitch stories to media outlets and communicate efficiently. Similarly, an apprenticeship in digital marketing would provide you with the chance to learn about SEO, PPC, and social media advertising.

Learning happens when you’re doing. Actively performing these tasks will allow you to get an idea on the things you are confident in and enjoy but more importantly, the things you struggle with as well. Hands on experience allows you to identify the sectors in which you may not be as familiar with and quickly receive help from the professionals around you.

2) Building connections

Secondly, building connections is crucial in the corporate world. Although important in any career, it is particularly key in an industry as competitive as PR and digital marketing. Having a network in the industry will open doors for future job opportunities, as well as providing a sounding board for your ideas and a source of feedback on your work – things that may be difficult to obtain in a university setting. Building these relationships early on can give you a massive head start and a greater window for success in the future.

Most apprenticeships allow you to attend industry events, connecting you with other PR and marketing professionals as well as potential clients – this is another way to expand your network and gain valuable knowledge in the field.

3) Earn while you learn

Unlike a traditional degree, an apprenticeship allows you to earn while you learn. This helps eliminate the financial burden of a student loan, which according to the UK Parliament website, is forecasted to be around £43,400 on average, once students complete their course in 23/24. So instead of completing university at the cost of a £40,000 debt, you could be completing your apprenticeship with extra cash in the bank!

Additionally, many apprenticeship programmes also provide training and support that can help you pass any industry-specific qualifications such as the Chartered institute of Public Relations (CIPR) diploma or the hundreds of digital marketing courses online.

An apprenticeship Is an excellent choice for anyone looking to build a career in PR and digital marketing. It allows you to gain hands on experience, build a professional network and is a cost-effective way to enter the industry. With the right mindset and willingness to learn, an apprenticeship can be the perfect steppingstone to a successful career in PR and digital marketing.

Find out more about the scheme here and our application form.

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Emerging trends for 2023 in the B2B marketing space (insights from the B2B Marketing Expo)

By Emi Ikemoto, digital marketing account manager, and Hebe Hughes, digital marketing account executive.

Industry events can be a great opportunity to network and learn but, during the pandemic, they were significantly impacted, with many organisations opting for virtual equivalents instead – even long after the easing of restrictions. However, the B2B Marketing Expo was held in London and the bustle of energy was undeniable. Speakers from a vast range of companies shared their knowledge and insights into emerging trends for 2023 in the B2B marketing space. We attended, and below are our key learnings from the day.

B2B buying

A trend seen across businesses is that many are engaging with potential customers too late. Approximately 70% of the buying process is not visible to the supplier, i.e. you.

We’re all familiar with the term ‘buying group’, but how familiar are you with buying group blindness? Most B2B buying decisions are made by groups rather than individuals, and research has shown that buying group size increases as the deal size increases, as does the number of interactions required.

So, what is buying group blindness? It refers to the situation where marketers and sales teams qualify leads on an individual basis, rather than looking at a group level. For example, a single user that downloads ten pieces of content will be qualified as a ‘hot’ lead and be pursued heavily.

However, having multiple people from the same business downloading one piece of content each is more valuable than a single, highly interested individual from another company; downloads from multiple people represent interest from a larger group within one business.

The issue is that in many cases, they may be qualified individually rather than as a group. Taking a group-centric view of leads will ensure that interest from a prospective business will be assessed by the aggregate value of individual employees’ behaviour.

Brand marketing: leveraging the human memory and situational cues

Continuing on the topic of buying, it should be noted that approximately 95% of a B2B company’s target audiences are not in a state to buy at any given time. With that being said, when a potential customer is ready to buy, they typically already have a brand in mind when it comes to creating RFPs and only consider 1.7 alternative suppliers on average.

These statistics highlight the importance of building and maintaining strong brand awareness so that when the time comes, your company is at the forefront of your target buying centre’s minds. How? Leverage human memory and situational cues in the marketing strategy.

Memories are highly situational. Research into context and state-dependent memory reveals that memory recall is improved when external cues present at the time of memory formation are recreated. Therefore, linking your brand messaging to buying situations through impactful campaigns will help trigger a potential customer’s memory of your brand when they encounter a similar situation. When customers think about you is equally as important as what customers think about you.

Finally, on memory and brand awareness, recency trumps frequency when it comes to marketing activity. When memory corrodes, sales fall: a study that looked at sales compared against advertising activity revealed that all brands were impacted by memory corrosion as sales declined year-on-year after advertising was stopped; with the rate of decline greater for smaller brands. Another interesting finding was the cases where companies took a year break from advertising and then began activity again; this restarting did not reverse the trend of decline in many cases, highlighting the negative impact of losing momentum.

As tempting as it may be to take a step back from marketing when purse strings tighten, these findings evidence the importance of advertising to sales and growth, and that it can be more costly to try to regain sales after a pause in advertising as memory in your target audience has corroded, rather than to maintain them.

How to win more sales and customers from organic LinkedIn

With over 800 million users, LinkedIn is a key platform to help B2B businesses win more sales and help gain customers. To do this, following a formatted process can help to increase wins on LinkedIn and reach your company’s goals.

The first step is setting objectives, which are crucial to increase sales and build brand awareness; this will help to set you up for the journey ahead. It can be useful to work backwards when setting these objectives, thinking about what you want to achieve and what steps you are going to take to get there! In this step, working out your priorities is essential to help you move forward and achieve your goals.

Having a clear understanding of the tools you are going to use to reach these targets is the next step. Having a functional tool to enable the specific execution of a task; a valuable tool using specific content and connections; and a resourceful tool through relationships, joining groups, events, and associations.

Your personal profile is the equivalent of an online landing page. It needs to showcase your credibility and authority and is the perfect way to represent yourself in the market you are targeting. Through this, you can connect with the people who are valuable to you and who will help to leverage your business. Seek out the people who you want to engage with and do just that!

Reviewing what works and doesn’t work is the final step to make sure you reach your goals on LinkedIn. This evaluation process ensures that what you are doing is correct and allows you to make any necessary changes in order to reach your objectives more successfully.

Value drives value

An important element for every company should be marketing with purpose and following a purpose-led decision strategy by placing organisational purpose at the core of everything they do. Hearing from the advertising team at Microsoft, they put purpose at the centre of the company and see glowing results. This helps to create a shared meaning between the customer and the brand. With purpose comes trust and loyalty.

Research by Microsoft has found that having trust in a product can increase sales by a substantial amount, a drive long term success. For example, there is a potential increase in sales by 4.7x in the financial service sector, highlighting the importance of trust and loyalty. From loyalty comes growth in responsibility, value and inclusion. These are all essential to any company and should be prioritised to help increase sales and create a positive environment for both the employees and the customer.

Want support with putting these insights into action? Get in touch with us to help you elevate your B2B marketing and achieve a successful 2023.

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ESG communications: don’t try and keep up with the Joneses… but do keep an eye on them

By Chris Bowman, Strategy & Content Director 

ESG communications can seem a tangled knot of paradoxes at times. Case in point: ESG can only succeed through standardization and comparability of data, yet at the same time it must be accurate and sincere – and sincerity requires specificity.  

Don’t try and keep up with the Joneses…

Credible ESG initiatives are necessarily highly specific to a company’s unique circumstances. There is no one-size-fits all way to decarbonise, for example – each company will have its own mix of scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions sources and need to cut accordingly. Social and governance contexts are equally idiosyncratic. ESG communications must reflect this specificity, too. 

Therefore, it is a doomed strategy to simply copy the competition. ESG communications can appear new and fraught with pitfalls, and so it can be tempting to wait and see what the other guys are doing and simply copy and paste. You’ll never be a leader that way, you may reason, but equally you’ll never be left behind or risk poking your head above the parapet. However, the reasoning is flawed. If you cleave too closely to competitors’ ESG communications – which are specific to them – the risk is that the same messages and tactics ring hollow and inauthentic in the context of your brand.  

Again: one size does not fit all, and ESG communications should be as bespoke as possible to the individual brand, while respecting common metrics and language. They should incorporate and reflect the company’s overall brand strategy and messaging, speak to the specifics of their ESG initiatives and why the way Company A designed Initiative X respects the unique situation, resources and ambitions of that company. 

…but do keep an eye on them

That said, don’t swing too far the other way. No brand is big and important enough to get away with being utterly introspective and ignoring the wider world.  

In the context of ESG communications, this can be critical. Rightly or wrongly, your ESG efforts will be evaluated against the competition. Investors, customers and other stakeholders must be convinced that you offer an equal or better option than the competition in terms of the ESG factors they care about.  

In simple terms, this can descend to war of numbers. Company A has cut 30% of its emissions versus Company B’s 22%; Company C has a 50/50 board gender ratio while Company D has only 40/60. This is agreeable enough if you’re winning, but simple numbers can hide complex truths.  

If you are in Company B or D’s shoes, you might benefit from telling a more nuanced narrative that adds context to the numbers. Perhaps Company C already had a 45/55 ratio and improvement is slow, whereas D has invested heavily to improve. Perhaps C is in a country where culture and working practices make it easier for women in the workplace versus D’s. Context is critical – which brings us back to specificity.  

But you can’t introduce that narrative if you’re unaware of the framing that is already out there. Has the competition already established the framing? Or is there still white space for your brand to take the initiative?  

You’ll only know if you’re looking at what the competition is doing. So, while you don’t want to try and keep up with the Joneses, you should keep an eye on them. 

Facing ESG communications challenges? Read our whitepaper or contact the team – we can help. 

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