How a campaign pays off.

Merck Group demonstrates the communicative potential of corporate reports.

Interview on Push Reporting with Judith Rahner

“With our first Push Reporting campaign, we generated 60,000 additional visits”, says Judith Rahner, Senior Manager Corporate Responsibility Communications at Merck Group. In our lab she talks about the need and impact of report communication.

Merck Group is a successful example for Push Reporting. For your last two Corporate Responsibility Reports you set up a strategic communication plan that incorporated a paid ad campaign on social media. Why?

Because we don’t see our Corporate Responsibility Report just as a regulatory stakeholder information document. For us it´s also a communication and storytelling instrument – especially the magazine part. We spend money on storytelling, design, creative concept or photo shootings. So, for me it was obvious that we also do our best to reach our audiences with these stories.

What was the campaign set up? What kind of assets did you promote? And for how long?

First of all, we decided which topic from our magazine could be interesting for which target group. For our ads we then used two channels – LinkedIn and Outbrain. Outbrain is a global media network with news sites from all over the world – like Guardian or CNN. While LinkedIn allows highly specific targeting based on education, field of work and interest, Outbrain provides access to a broad target audience based on interests. The assets we promoted this year were photo-based ads, in last year´s campaign we also had videos that were very well received. The whole campaign was running for two months after the publication of the report.

Which target group did you address?

For our three magazine stories we chose different target groups: For example, in LinkedIn, for the story on our fight against the worm disease schistosomiasis we defined people who (based on their profile) work as doctors or for non-profit organizations. We targeted most regions in the world but here also Africa, which worked very well. Furthermore, our story about green chemistry targeted people working in the field of environment for LinkedIn and being interested in environmental news for Outbrain. As geographies we chose Europe and the US. Other than last year in 2019 we also included internal employees and could leverage their high engagement – e.g. they shared and liked quite often.

Would you call your campaign a success? Were you able to increase your reach?

Yes, definitely a big success that was also recognized externally via awards we received. We were able to increase our reach quite strongly during last year´s campaign and even were able to further raise the session numbers by more than one third this year. We see the ads as a possibility to reach new stakeholder groups and get attention for our sustainable activities at Merck. The magazine stories can be a door-opener in this context – even though we see that many of the new visitors only read the story. But some of them go ahead. They watch the CEO video or learn about our goals.