Long-term media analysis carried out by Cision shows: ESG issues are heavily influenced by protests and politics

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Environmental and social issues dominate the ESG agenda, whereas corporate governance is overshadowed

FRANKFURT, Germany, 15 August 2023 /PRNewswire/ — A media analysis carried out by Cision, a leading global provider of communication platforms and consumer and media intelligence services, shows that despite multiple crises, ESG issues remain very prominent in traditional media and social channels. In a comparison with survey data, the analysis shows that despite a declining willingness among consumers to pay more for green products, and there being less interest in knowing about the social responsibility taken by companies, public discussion in the media and on social platforms regarding ESG issues increased between January 2020 and June 2023. The analysis also shows that discussions about ecological and social issues are becoming more heated and politically charged. Articles in traditional media as well as posts on Twitter (now X), Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Reddit, forums and Tumblr were examined. For comparison, the experts also examined articles and posts in English, Spanish, French and Italian.

In Germany, environmental-related topics and stories dominate media coverage and discussions on social platforms

“Companies are becoming more and more transparent due to the increasing ESG reporting requirements, while at the same time being confronted to a somewhat greater extent with accusations of greenwashing. In terms of communications, they should show a clear stance on ESG issues and give specific examples of their progress,” says Manuela Schreckenbach, Head of Insights Consulting, DACH at Cision. Even if consistently only around one percent of ESG reporting in Germany is linked to DAX companies, communicators must remain alert.

ESG focuses on environmental issues in particular in Germany

ESG issues became more visible in Germany in the first half of 2023 (+36 percent) compared to the average for the previous three years. The focus is very much on the environment and climate: during this assessment period, ecological issues increased by 74 percent, social issues by 8 percent and corporate governance issues by 6 percent. The abbreviation ESG stands for Environmental, Social, Governance.

Environmental issues accounted for 51 percent of the ESG reporting in German-language media reports in 2020 and for 70 percent in 2023. The ecological topics focus on climate protests, heat waves and politics, such as the new climate protection law and the heating dispute. A total of 29 percent of the feelings and sentiments across all ESG media contributions are negative, being characterised by anger, disgust, sadness or fear.

The agenda looks somewhat different in the international comparison markets: there, social issues were at the forefront across the entire analysed period, with values of up to around 70 percent of ESG reporting. The media reports about and discusses human rights violations, racism, LGBTQ rights and wokeism.

What is striking is that in all the languages that were analysed, the topic of corporate governance is only rarely mentioned in the context of ESG reporting. However, the analysis clearly shows that protests and politics determine the ESG agenda. Incidentally, 7.9 percent of the ESG reports are related to parties – 7 to 8 times as many as are related to DAX companies.

Findings resulting from the comparison with surveys

“We not only evaluated the media as part of the analysis, but also other studies and surveys carried out by Infratest dimap and the Global Web Index (GWI). By combining the data, we can add more depth to the classic media analysis and highlight concrete recommendations for action more directly,” says Jonas Kolbe, Senior Insights Strategist at Cision. An example: According to GWI, in 2023 only 53 percent of those surveyed stated: “I would be prepared to pay more for environmentally friendly products,” which is 5.9 percent less than in 2020. During the same period, reporting in the German media about environmental issues increased by 74 percent.

The complete media analysis “ESG: Reporting Trends in German Media” is available in German and English, with tips for companies, on the following website:


Media contact:

Boris Mayer

Director Marketing D/A/CH

Cision Germany GmbH

Tel. +49 (0) 69 244 32 88-301

Mobile: +49 (0) 151 678 30 362

[email protected]

Or: [email protected] 

About Cision 

Cision is a comprehensive consumer and media intelligence and communication platform that enables public relations, marketing and communications professionals around the world to understand, influence and amplify the impact of their stories. As a market leader, Cision makes it possible for the next generation of leaders to act strategically in the modern media landscape, in which corporate success is directly influenced by public opinion. Cision has offices in 24 countries in North/Central/South America, EMEA and APAC, and offers a range of best-in-class solutions, such as PR Newswire, Cision Communications Cloud®, Cision Insights and Brandwatch.

More information about Cision is available at www.cision.de and Cision can be followed on X (@Cision_DE) and LinkedIn (Cision on LinkedIn). 

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Cision Insights' long-term media analysis shows that debates around ESG issues have increased and are driven by protests and politics




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