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Emerging Sustainability & ESG Topics Garner More Audience Attention in Q4

Emerging Sustainability & ESG Topics Garner More Audience Attention in Q4

Published 12-22-22

Submitted by 3BL

ESG stories infographic

Consumers, investors, employees and other stakeholders are increasingly interested in the operational details and outcomes of company environmental, social and governance (ESG) programs, according to recent data from 3BL Media, the leading distributor of corporate sustainability and ESG news, commentary, and content.

“We’re seeing a shift in audience attention in the final months of 2022,” commented Dave Armon, CEO of 3BL Media. “Stakeholders are focusing on actions companies are taking to respond to the headline issues and this is reflected in the categories that receive the most views per story on our network.”

Top ESG Topics for Q4

In the fourth quarter of 2022, the five most popular content categories on the 3BL Media network as measured by the average number of views per item, a key measure of audience activity and interest, were:

  1. Energy
  2. Sustainable Finance & Socially Responsible Investment
  3. Awards, Ratings & Rankings
  4. Education
  5. Green Infrastructure

For the same time period, the content topics most frequently issued by brands were:

  1. Diversity & Inclusion
  2. Philanthropy & Cause Initiatives
  3. Environment
  4. Responsible Business & Employee Engagement
  5. Awards, Ratings & Rankings

The only topic to appear in both lists is the “Awards, Ratings & Rankings” category.

The most popular ESG topics in 2022

Over the course of 2022, the content topics issued by brands have changed little, a sharp contrast to fast-evolving audience interests.

“The stakeholder audience is unquestionably paying attention to the news of the day, from the energy crisis and election issues to developments from COP27, and they are looking to top brands for leadership,” noted Charlie Wilkie, chief business officer for 3BL Media. “Throughout the year, we have observed changes in the topics the online audience for ESG and sustainability news is seeking.”

Earlier in the year, the audience responded to news about actions brands took to deliver more sustainable and fair financing, investment, and social impact. Awards and rankings were also top of mind. The broad category of energy was the fifth most popular.

However, by the end of the year, the audience focus had changed.

Audience attention shifts in the fourth quarter

Energy jumped from fifth place to first in views per story, followed by the Sustainable Finance & Socially Responsible Investment and Awards, Ratings & Rankings categories. Interest in Education and Green Infrastructure also broke into the top five late in the year.

Despite their popularity, the topics favored by audiences in the latter part of the year are among some of the least often published: Sustainable Finance & Socially Responsible Investment ranks 13th and Green Infrastructure is 16th out of 3BL’s 17 content categories, which map to the United Nations’ global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Communicators can seize the opportunity to connect with a larger audience with stories that speak to the topics that are top-of-mind for the audience,” Armon noted. “In the marketing and PR spaces, we talk a lot about the effectiveness of segmentation. These emerging topic areas represent the opportunity for increased visibility, for active brands in these areas.”

About 3BL Media
3BL Media’s unrivaled distribution platforms distribute ESG content from hundreds of leading purpose-driven brands to a global audience of stakeholders including investors, media, policymakers, corporate leaders, consumers, employees, and ratings & rankings agencies. For more information, please visit

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3BL has revolutionized how brands share their corporate sustainability and social impact progress.

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