How It Works: Smart Reporting
Inside our award-winning approach to corporate sustainability communications
Every sustainability project has the potential to leverage something that we like to call Smart Reporting: comprehensive communications tactics that are engaging, malleable and – yes – fun. Put simply, Smart Reporting means:
- Providing value by understanding that different audiences need and use data in different ways; and
- Actively employing that information through technology, design and storytelling, to deliver your key messages to stakeholders’ hands, timelines and inboxes more effectively. Smart Reporting understands that sustainability analysis is more nuanced than poring over a catalogue of numbers. And it’s how The Works helps companies become industry leaders.
“Very few people want to read a dense, 100-page PDF on sustainability performance,” says The Works’ Sustainability Manager, Shu Yi Chu. “I find that most companies have clear goals and aspirations for their sustainability communications – and we help them translate that vision into compelling stories across various media and platforms.”
Shu Yi believes that Smart Reporting is the ideal way to showcase a company’s sustainability efforts, because it uses all the tools available: succinct writing, user-friendly interfaces, optimized viewing, video, social media, animation, exceptional aesthetics – the works, basically. “Corollary assets help meet diverse expectations,” says Shu Yi. “People will care about your initiatives if you give them valuable information.” In other words, sustainability must be less of an annual data dump, and more like an anticipated book release. Particularly in the lead-up to a report, if you can reach stakeholders more frequently, you will build social and ethical capital. And people, in turn, will be eager to connect to the story you’re telling, year-round.
So what does Smart Reporting look like in the real (and virtual) world? One example is a CSR microsite (rather than a sustainability “silo” on a corporate website). Unlike its counterpart, a distinct microsite can employ a full arsenal of techniques to inform investors, peers and the general public. People don’t have to dig for information. It’s user-friendly and can reconfigure to evolving tactics and tastes. Shu Yi points to Newmont’s annual sustainability report, Beyond the Mine. Designed by The Works, this elegant site highlights the company’s global initiatives in a modern and immersive way. Because it’s dedicated to sustainability initiatives, it hosts some truly analyst-friendly tools, such as a “utility drawer” with framework links and toggles. A Case Study drawer includes social sharing buttons that pre-load tweets and Facebook posts with hashtags that help take the Newmont story further. The company shares content from the report frequently, making its sustainability strategy feel ongoing and active.
“It’s a great example of a company embracing a holistic approach to sustainability communications. The site’s both inviting and far-reaching.”
Smart Reporting, like sustainability, is a relatively new corporate strategy, but it’s founded on classic business principles. As Shu Yi reminds us: “You still need to do the research, seek out new ideas and listen to stakeholders.” Built on a proven foundation, Smart Reporting is important now, because it prepares companies for what’s next. It is itself sustainable. Smart, no?