Zsofia Balatoni is the Chief Strategy Officer at Rothman & Roman, an independent, international strategic communications company. Zsofia spoke with Telum Media about navigating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) stories as well as the unique Southeast Asia communications landscape.
What do you consider to be your agency’s strengths in this market?
Our key market focus has historically been Europe. From early on, we realised our strength lies in ESG and cross-cultural communications, and we have been blessed with purpose-driven, forward-looking multinational corporation clients to work with on campaigns. We witnessed the evolution of ESG communication in Europe, where ESG standards and requirements are high, and were able to become fluent in all aspects of it.
The burning question coming from many communications directors today is how to talk about ESG. ‘Greenwashing’ and ‘greenhushing’ are equally dangerous strategies with research showing many companies struggle to create an ESG narrative relevant to the media, or even their own employees. We believe a human-centred approach is the solution which allows participation, tackles core business-related issues and creates a real impact.
Based on the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer, about 80 per cent of Singaporeans reportedly want their CEOs to act on societal issues in general and in the office, such as discrimination. Employees, through their informal networks, are the most important ambassadors and C-suite members of organisations must engage in meaningful discussions with them. There are a lot of tools to achieve this, from gamification to training and experimental activities. Equally, once organisations make a commitment, it is important not to forget engagement with the media as well.
In the past year, our clients have been featured in all key local and regional media outlets. We help our clients to tell their sustainability stories in-house and externally in an impactful way. I am extremely happy to see that this topic resonates with local companies. For example, most, if not all, of our ESG communication workshops run with full-house attendance.
As a proud sponsor of the EuroCham Sustainability Awards’ ESG Communication category for the second year running, we are glad to see so many companies excel in ESG, though there is certainly a lot of opportunity in this area. As an agency, we will continue to be strong advocates of ESG communication wherever and whenever we can!