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ESG annual reports: The tips and realities in creating an authentic ESG message

NAREIM Marketing & Communications Meeting

May 18, virtual

ESG reporting is now a given for most real estate investment managers – however, when producing an ESG annual report, NAREIM members were recommended to talk about where firms need to improve, as well as their success stories.

During the NAREIM Marketing & Communications virtual meeting on May 18, members shared case studies and insights into how they were adopting ESG storytelling into their marketing strategies, particularly in relation to ESG annual reports.

And with organizations largely in the early stages of their ESG journey, members heard it was important to share a genuine vision of where a corporate was – and the areas for improvement – rather than just ESG wins.

Another key takeaway from the 60-min virtual session included editing down the data.

  • There will be more information gathered than you need and can fit in. Have a strategy for your report and know when to edit things back. Make sure all information and data collected is pertinent to that marketing strategy. What are your goals with the report? What important themes need to be covered? What can be left for other times?

Members heard two case studies detailing the life cycle of producing an ESG annual report. Members discussed key takeaways including:

  • Manage expectations regarding deadlines, and ensure the business understands the data cut-off point. Data can change constantly throughout the production of an annual report, but do you want to be making changes minutes before it’s sent to the designers or printers?

  • Make sure you have professionals within the organization who can act as ESG liaisons or interpreters to the data. ESG marketing is a collaborative process. It touches a lot of different functional groups.

  • Give investors a sneak peek of your ESG reports – usually 48-72 hours before general release

  • Make it useful across functional groups so the report can be used as collateral for other purposes, such as PPMs, DDQs, thought-leadership articles, social media posts, etc

  • Incorporate sustainable practices into your launch. Don’t print hard copies, but instead think of the environment and social impact of the report, or think of how tenants may access the report, can it be an interactive PDF?

  • Think about your ESG frameworks – does the report need to be compliant or aligned with ESG reporting rules, such as GRI?

  • What’s your ESG data repository? Do you have a central location accessible to all functional groups within the firm to access ESG data?

To download The Green Cities Company presentation, click here.

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