2021 demonstrated a real paradigm shift in the finance sector: a new willingness to take on more responsibility for their role in preventing the climate crisis.
This year, we’ve worked on a number of campaigns with our partners at the Sunrise Project and other climate organisations to make an impact through a new, key audience — institutional investors, to task them with holding major fossil fuel emitting companies to account.
The rationale is simple: investors hold significant influence over companies — and have a yearly opportunity to vote for or against company plans. In recent years, we’ve seen shareholders put forward their own plans when those of the company fall short.
So, how do you launch a campaign that can tap into the hearts and minds of employees at institutional investors?
1. IDENTIFY THE RIGHT CAMPAIGN TARGET
In order for us to have a tangible impact on the environment, companies need to demonstrate a mix of targets and credible plans to deliver sufficient emissions reductions. They must, as a priority, make short and medium term plans to curb their emissions including decarbonisation in the next decade. Therefore when deciding on a target, we should prioritise the worst offenders in terms of their impact on the climate.
2. DEVELOP YOUR AUDIENCE TARGETING
For any digital campaign, it’s key to understand how you’re going to actually reach your target audience. Once a target company is identified, we first create a list of their investors. Then it’s a case of deciding how you will target individuals who work at these investment companies – whether going straight for senior management, or targeting all employees for the ‘watercooler effect’. LinkedIn allows for highly niche targeting at a company, location and even specific roles. This allows us to collect further data on behaviour and engagement with our content to be more efficient the next time round.
3. ADAPT YOUR STRATEGY
When influencing investors, we need to use channels, messages and approaches that can have a real influence on votes. A combination of paid campaigns, out of home marketing and direct outreach may be necessary for real behavioural change to be possible. Targeted digital campaigns will add pressure to senior management at key investor targets to vote in a Paris-aligned way at key climate votes. However, trying different approaches may be necessary to directly influence investors, including getting coverage and placing advertorials in the types of media they read. Considering that we often need to influence at a global level, language and tone of voice should also be adapted with campaign partners in different regions to ensure your campaign messaging and creative is culturally sensitive.
4. PLAY THE LONG GAME
As previous campaign experience has shown us, making a change at a company level can be a long process. It takes months rather than last minute campaigns to make a tangible, systemic change among investment managers. There is an opaque ecosystem within these firms and often an internal lack of clarity or and for senior management to be able to consider more stringent policy and practice with their work with investors. We need to make sure it’s on their radar for the long term.
Now that COP26 is wrapping up and the finance industry is gearing up for reporting and shareholder season, campaigns and investor initiatives should have initial strategies in place for the coming months. This includes your company targets, key messages and a plan of action. Now is the perfect time.