Peso for Your Thoughts on Sustainability?

Peso for Your Thoughts on Sustainability?

Acronyms make it easier to remember new concepts. The term PESO – paid, earned, shared and owned -- was useful in remembering the new paradigm for PR pros and marketers seeking to reach key audiences with their content in a highly fragmented media environment.

For those PR purists who find it hard to stomach paid as a mainstay comms tactic, try rearranging the letters and going with ESOP. This acknowledges that scoring coverage in a respected news outlet often commands more authority than the content a brand writes and publishes on its own.

Pitching a positive story about a CSR or sustainability achievement is a challenge that’s only getting harder.

Andrew Hill, management editor at the Financial Times, who chaired a Business in the Community panel on trust in business, said it is unreasonable for brands and their PR agencies to expect glowing coverage for corporate citizenship initiatives.

“I think it is a big ask to say that the media will cover the good news story over the bad news story,” said Hill. “That hasn’t happened yet in the question of trust in business, I’m afraid.”

Hill is not the only respected journalist who rubs shoulders with brand CSR and sustainability executives at industry events. David Gelles, whose New York Times “Revalued” column appears under brash headlines like “Social Responsibility That Rubs Right Off,” recently played the part of moderator for the Ethical Corporation Summit.

Despite the close proximity of these top tier journalists, the likelihood of them filing a puff piece is far less likely to get them interested in a positive story than their publication pursuing bad actors.

Last week, The Associated Press won the Pulitzer for Public Service for its investigation of slavery in the fishing industry. The series of articles prompted many seafood and pet food companies and retailers to examine their supply chain in Southeast Asian.

As CSR and sustainability communications professionals examine how they will share their work with key stakeholders, top tier news outlets are largely a closed door for all but the most groundbreaking stories. This is driving brands to invest in yet another acronym, MaaS, media as a service.