Reporting trends, some predictions, part two of four

A couple of weeks back I posted the first in a four part blog post series on reporting.

Here’s the first post, where I talked about creating an evidence base for engaging in public debate about your company’s role in society.

This second posting is about real-time,web based reporting, and engagement.

In case you are wondering, parts three and four are about targeted, segmented stakeholder communications and then on to integration into more mainstream marketing and outreach.

So what do we mean by real time web based reporting and engagement in 2010?

As we all know, reporting is evolving fast, but is held back by various factors inside companies.

The complexities of communicating on sustainability is the most important, but there are others in play too.

Real time reporting is about that ongoing information flow, initially to a website, rather than publishing a report once a year.

This is trend that’s taking hold.

Consider these examples. Patagonia, via a blog and special site, Timberland, Produce World, Guardian Media Group, and Marks & Spencer.

The companies all take different approaches, depending on how they feel their relevant stakeholder, or online visitors, like to see information.

The difference is, they seem to be adding information more than once a year. I’ll go into, in a follow up post, how they use the sites to encourage debate.

But in this posting I wanted to highlight the sites themselves, and of course, ask for further suggestions from readers.

What we are seeing here is a ‘pull’ based approach, whereby, if you are interested, you can go online, see information published on a regular basis, and engage, or be engaged, in one way or another, with the company and its ‘journey’.

(Produce World’s site is not a two way communications effort, as it’s mainly a B2B firm, but is in more ‘real time’ than annual reporting).

Taking this approach is just stage two of four, in my view.

It allows for engagement when interested stakeholders find that part of the site, and shows them the company is not just ticking boxes once a year by producing a PDF report and print edition.

In the next post, part three, I’ll talk about how I see these companies, or others, engaging in segmented communication to bring people into parts of these sites, or others, and encouraging very specific conversations.

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