Strategic Comms Awards

Most innovative approach


At RELX, a FTSE 15 business-to-business information and analytics group, corporate responsibility is ingrained in the way it operates. It is integral to its business strategy and underpins the company’s long-term record of value creation for its stakeholders.

But many of the reports and surveys that RELX produces, while useful for its investor relations audience, are long, dense and text-heavy PDFs written in a dry and factual manner. Its corporate responsibility report, which first appeared in 2002, was no exception, and its readership base often limited to shareholders. In 2020, the corporate responsibility report stood at 98 pages long with more than 296 items of data. It provided an insight into how RELX approaches corporate responsibility and highlighted progress against internal objectives, and the communications team was keen to broaden its appeal and ensure it reached a wider audience.

RELX had already been experimenting with Shorthand, parallax storytelling technology which it had used extensively to display content commissioned from leading freelance journalists. Its first article published using Shorthand, which was about its Lancet publication, generated double the number of reads compared to its more traditional articles.

Combining this approach with microtargeting on Twitter started to generate in excess of 10,000 readers for each article, at a cost of less than one pence a click. It ultimately led to a 13-fold increase in the number of reads on RELX’s website. RELX repurposed its corporate responsibility report using Shorthand, and then embedded third party tools, like Infogram, to creative interactive graphs. It also included annotations and navigation tool bars, to allow users to interact with the data and easily navigate the pages of the report.

To ensure that the report reached the right audience, RELX promoted its content on social media and microtargeted its own investors to raise their awareness of its leadership in the area of corporate responsibility, ahead of its first event on the subject.

Within a few weeks of launch, and social media promotion, RELX’s corporate responsibility report generated more than 12,400 reads. By contrast, its 2019 report had been downloaded just over 2,500 times in one year.

This has revolutionised RELX’s approach. As it asks, why would it send a PDF again when it can just send a link? And that link is here.