No One Cares About My Content Marketing

Jordan Breakley

What was the first thing you thought about this morning? Exactly! It wasn’t content marketing. And if it was, I’m sure it wasn’t intentional. To be honest, content marketing wasn’t the first thing I thought about this morning – and it’s part of my job.

Here’s the thing: customers don’t care – I mean really care – about content marketing. At least not consciously. But they do care about organizations that add value to their lives by entertaining them, solving their problems or making them feel like they’re improving the world.

It’s a hard reality but it’s true. So why do we do “content marketing” you ask? We do it because it is a means to an end. Creating content marketing strategies is great – and I’m not saying that because it’s part of my job. It’s great because it’s integral to helping organizations add value to their customers’ brand experience.

Before I continue, let’s define content marketing (and there are plenty of definitions but I like this one from Jason Falls of Social Media Explorer best):

“Content marketing is using any type of content (newsletters, blog posts, white papers, videos, Tweets, podcasts, wall posts) to attract an audience you wish to market to. Capturing their attention through great content gives you the opportunity to present calls-to-action to them to purchase or try your product or service.”

Content marketing alone is not a magic bullet that will break product sales records or suddenly change the public perception of an organization or even make the media write positive stories about a company. What content marketing does do is help to achieve sales, public perception and media coverage goals through increased social media marketing ROI.

Alone, content marketing isn’t the answer because you’re only providing attention-grabbing content. Providing that content is the opportunity, not the objective.

So the next time I’m drafting a content marketing strategy, just know that I’m fully aware that no one cares about content marketing strategy as much as they care about my clients’ products, corporate citizenship and reputation. And I’m not complaining, I’m just saying.


Changing the Conversation about Medical Imaging

Jessie DuPont

We may not be able to control the headlines, but we can create engaging content that alters perceptions and shifts the conversation.

If you’ve read the news lately, you know there’s an extensive debate about the potential effects of exposure to radiation from medical imaging procedures. These intentionally shocking – and sometimes misleading – stories are resonating among key decision makers in Washington, D.C. And despite the proven benefits of medical imaging, the industry must constantly battle legislative and regulatory threats from Capitol Hill.

Powell Tate works with the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) to change the conversation about medical imaging. In this effort, we launched Imaging Forward, a multi-channel campaign that highlights the groundbreaking innovation in medical imaging technologies and the impact of these advancements on patient care.


Though MITA’s ultimate goal is to shift policymakers’ thinking about the value of medical imaging, our approach is to spark ongoing conversation on multiple platforms through media outreach and social engagement online, as well as across more traditional communications channels such as creating print materials for visits to Congressional offices. In addition, we are building relationships with third-party organizations – including physician groups, patient advocacy organizations and industry associations – to ensure that our collective message about the importance of imaging innovation is successfully communicated.

So far, these tactics have worked well. We’re seeing great engagement with our micro video series spotlighting innovative new imaging technologies. Additionally, our first-ever Vine video – which was distributed on Twitter and promoted to D.C. influencers – generated more than 10,000 impressions with a relatively low cost-per-engagement in its first month. Now that’s a step in the right direction.

View the Imaging Forward website here:

View the Vine video that Powell Tate produced here:


Release Your Wild: Seizing the Moment to Build Engagement

Evan Von Leer and Amil Husain

Whether it was watching one of The Hunger Games movies on the silver screen, tuning into The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones on TV or viewing one of the most popular streamed events from the 2012 London Olympics, at some point over the past few months you have been exposed to the sport of archery. In August 2013, we began working with the Archery Trade Association to capitalize on this recent growth in popularity to build a new generation of youth archers throughout the United States.

The result: Release Your Wild, a campaign that leverages digital platforms and pop culture to connect teens and tweens to each other and to the stores, camps, leagues and lessons that will help them start their archery adventure.

On November 5, 2013, after three months of online focus group testing, message and visual design, and website and social channel design and development, we launched Release Your Wild.

An intensive focus group research process informed the development of the campaign’s branding, construction of a campaign landing page, and creation of shareable content that has helped us create an engaged community of nearly 90,000 teens and tweens on Facebook within the first four months. To build that audience, we relied on a mixture of shareable social content and video content, paid digital advertising, earned media and online influencer engagement.

A strategic paid acquisition and engagement strategy helped build an audience that is more than 90% within our target demographic—13-17 year olds, skewing slightly female—and keep them interacting with every piece of content we publish. Earned media efforts to raise awareness about the campaign and archery among youth landed mentions in SELF and The Daily Beast. And a targeted celebrity/online influencer outreach component resulted in a video spot with popular YouTuber Lia Marie Johnson, one of AdWeek’s “Biggest Young Stars,” which has been viewed more than 145,000 times.

We are able to track the campaign’s progress and success over a wide range of key performance indicators, including engagement on Release Your Wild social channels and the thousands of interactions on the Release Your Wild web page – whether it is a user clicking a piece of social content on the site, or entering their zip code to find a nearby archery retailer where they can buy their first bow and start their archery adventure.

Check out Release Your Wild on the web, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest.


SXSW: In Search of the Next Big Thing

David Leavitt


Flickr Creative Commons photo by Nan Palmero.


Now that a couple weeks have passed since the interactive portion of South By Southwest (SXSW), what stands out as the Next Big Thing?

Wearable technology? Sure. The SXSW tradeshow floor was a sea of start-ups touting new ways to make clothes “smarter.” 3-D printing technology? Absolutely. Oreo set up an installation that printed edible cookies customized by Twitter’s trending topics at any particular moment. (If that doesn’t make sense, it’s okay. I stood there mesmerized by it but didn’t really understand it myself.)

But with Julian Assange and Edward Snowden as conference speakers — both by video, of course — it’s no surprise that in addition to technology hardware, the big themes this year were big data and privacy. (Are you sick of hearing the term “big data” yet?) On the privacy front, World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee noted that the Internet can simultaneously be a tool for both freedom and oppression. “There are certain rights that should be more enshrined,” he said.

Beyond technology and the Internet, see if you can spot the theme with these three conference speakers:

  • Statistician and writer Nate Silver said his biggest fear with his new FiveThirtyEight project is that his inflated stardom will make it too easy to venture in ill-advised areas. "When you’re somebody’s boss, you don’t get pushback on your bullshit ideas,” he told attendees.
  • During a question-and-answer session with fashion entrepreneur Sophia Amoruso, someone asked how she deals with complicated issues at her vintage clothing company Nasty Gal. Amoruso replied, “When confronted by a problem, I ask a lot of people what they think.”
  • And then there’s astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who made “curiosity” the theme of his keynote address. “Kids turn over rocks. It’s how they learn. We tend to tell people the answer and that denies them the opportunity to find out.”

The common theme? Question the world around you and surround yourself with people who question you. Perhaps that idea isn’t the Next Big Thing, but it’s certainly something that can help us discover what is.


There is No One Patient Journey: Tailoring Healthcare Messages, One Story at a Time

Morgan Jones

[Left to Right] Lance Hill, Meredith Ressi, Gil Bashe, Kirsten Axelsen, Dalal Haldeman, and Carissa Caramanis O'Brien


Employer-sponsored health insurance gained traction and really arrived on the scene during World War II, when it was recognized as an employee benefit, a recruitment tool if you will. Oh, how the times have changed. Now, with the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), universal health coverage is in sight, and it’s critical to reach the consumer and not just employers and businesses.

So, what does this change to consumer-based health insurance marketing mean for communications professionals? I had the opportunity to grapple with this question when I attended the Future of Healthcare Communications Summit in New York City on February 25. The summit addressed the challenges associated with communicating directly to consumers and the important role communications professionals play in the evolving ACA landscape.

The cadre of communications experts at the summit represented all facets of the healthcare space, from pharma and health insurance companies to agencies, consumer researchers, and public health professionals. With such expertise on the panel, I was bound to leave with all the tools and knowledge needed to help my clients succeed in this new arena. However, as many in the healthcare world know, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

A common theme throughout the summit was that no one patient journey is the same, as we should know and appreciate. To meet this challenge, Dalal Haldeman, senior vice president of marketing and communications at Johns Hopkins Medicine mentioned, we need to “connect, connect, connect,” and consider partnerships to expand distribution of our messages. In other words, it is our job and responsibility as communications professionals to analyze the formative research to understand barriers, tailor messages, and tell the story in a way that appeals to a broad audience but that also resonates with the individual.

Another challenge is communicating about the Affordable Care Act from the politically divisive aspects to its ever-changing path. Kirsten Axelsen, vice president of worldwide policy of Pfizer, preached patience, noting that just like it takes time for clinical guidelines to become practice, it’s going to take time for the Affordable Care Act to be fully implemented. Through this process, it’s important to underscore benefits and accessibility, from who is eligible to receive benefits to the power of preventative care. There are opportunities to focus on quality measures in place that reflect the needs of the patients. The more we know about the consumer and patient needs, the more we can target our messaging, and fully engage those audiences.

Certainly these are just a couple of insights on how we can strategically approach communications in the new healthcare landscape. We’d love to hear your thoughts as well. 


To Start a Conversation with Congress, Bring The Issue To Their Doorstep

Greg McCarthy

Amphibious Warship Forum - Feb. 11, 2014

Capturing the attention of Members of Congress and Washington media is always difficult. Which is why on February 11, Powell Tate brought the importance of U.S. Navy amphibious warships directly to Congress and the media with a forum held in the Cannon Caucus Room of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The event highlighted the value of amphibious warships to national defense and the importance of funding for the continued construction of these ships. Representatives of the U.S. Marine Corps and Members of Congress spoke on the importance of a strong U.S. Navy amphibious warship construction program to national defense and the industrial base, while suppliers provided demonstrations and displays of the parts and products they manufacture for amphibious warships.

Amphibious warships are vital to the mission of the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marines, making it possible for Sailors and Marines to respond swiftly in times of crisis, from major combat operations to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. But continued reductions in the U.S. defense budget threaten manufacturers across the U.S. that provide parts and products for all types of military ships, vehicles and aircraft.

The forum, “Preserving the U.S. Navy’s Most Capable Warship,” also served as the inaugural event of the Amphibious Warship Industrial Base Coalition (AWIBC), a new grassroots supplier organization established and administered by Powell Tate on behalf of our client, Huntington Ingalls Industries, the U.S. Navy’s premier shipbuilder.

More than 110 people were in attendance including the Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, several Members of Congress, Congressional staff, media and defense analysts. The event secured significant media coverage and achieved the client’s goal of engaging Members of Congress and Congressional staff in a conversation about Congressional funding for the program.

View photos from the event here:

View the video that Powell Tate compiled for the forum here: (Credit and thank you for video footage: Smithsonian Networks’ Mighty Ships, Huntington Ingalls Industries and the United States Navy)


How Federal Agencies Can Be Effective on Social Media

Kerry Humphrey

Jim Holland, from our parent company Weber Shandwick, recently wrote a great piece for Government Executive about how government agencies can effectively communicate using social channels.

It’s a great read because it maps out four key elements of an integrated social marketing or public education campaign:

  • Increase the likelihood of change by involving our social networks
  • Break through the clutter with a powerful and emotional platform
  • Activate a diverse array of influencers and keep them engaged with content
  • Surround your audience with both traditional and digital tactics

As Jim affirms, following these steps can help government agencies successfully leverage today’s digital communications tools to drive action and impact.


2014 Congressional Outlook

Eric Hoffman

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Ron Cogswell

While the polar vortex is keeping temperatures chilly (ok, freezing) in Washington, D.C., lawmakers have returned to Capitol Hill where legislative action is heating up.

In 2014, Congress will focus on legislation that it must pass, such as appropriations, as well as bills that serve to drive both parties' political agendas before this year’s midterm elections. I don't expect the bipartisanship that emerged with the budget deal at the end of 2013 to continue, so a major tax reform bill, gun control or new climate initiatives aren't likely to make it to the President's desk. Congress does need to pass legislation that lifts the debt ceiling before the Treasury Department's borrowing authority runs out on February 7. While Democrats want a clean debt ceiling bill, and Republicans want to extract spending cuts as a concession to lift the debt ceiling, both parties have a shared political interest to avoid an ugly debate.

If the bipartisanship that emerged at the end of last year does continue, immigration reform is the one major piece of legislation that stands a chance of becoming law. The business community supports it and the legislation would help the GOP politically with Hispanic voters.

In addition to the legislation that Congress must pass, you’ll likely see an array of “message bills” that are designed to help further each party’s political interests. Beyond the unemployment insurance benefits extension currently on Congress’ docket, Democrats will focus on other economic equity issues such as increasing the minimum wage. Republicans will attempt to keep the focus on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) roll out. A critical test of the fault lines between the White House and Democrats on the Hill will be the extent to which Democratic Members support legislation that modifies provisions of the ACA. Some vulnerable Democrats may seek to adopt a "fix it; don't nix it" approach in the face of the continued GOP efforts to repeal or defund the law - an approach frowned upon by the President, who sees it as a slippery slope that could eventually gut the new health care law.

Other issues that Congress could address include fast-track trade promotion, National Security Agency reform and new Iran sanctions if bilateral talks fail to produce any results by the May deadline. Also, five new Federal Reserve Board governors - including a new #2 to fill Janet Yellin's post - must be nominated and confirmed this year. This could change the make-up and direction of the Central Bank.

As with all election seasons, by about mid-summer, any serious policy work will need to be wrapped up as Members focus attention back home on their re-election campaigns. That said, every congressional vote this year will be viewed through the prism of midterm elections as incumbents seek to return to Washington and challengers seek to define those they are trying to replace.


Moscow Open Innovations Forum: Reputation Management in Social Networks

Michael Stopford

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s top priority focuses on opening up his country to entrepreneurship and innovation. And it’s the same for the Prime Ministers of France and Finland (the Finns are already masters at this).

That’s why both countries co-hosted the second-annual Moscow Open Innovations Forum with Mr. Medvedev.

The Forum brings together thousands of government ministers, CEOs, academics and people active in "innovation" worldwide – from start-ups in Silicon Valley, to investors in London and California, to technology "incubators" from Paris to Moscow.

Representing, Powell Tate/Weber Shandwick, I was invited to talk at the Forum about reputation management in social networks. On the panel, we had the strategy head of one of Russia's biggest consumer banks – Sberbank – along with experts from Berlin and Moscow. It was a great session with lots of lively audience interaction.

The innovation landscape has become quite hot – and quite controversial – in Russia. As oil and gas revenue drives less economic output, there are high hopes for innovation. Russia is now calling on its long tradition in science and engineering – harking back to the Soviet Union and the space race era – to bolster its economy. However, these efforts are controversial, as some Russian elites believe too much of the state's limited resources are going to “flagship” innovation projects, like the Skolkovo project championed by PM Medvedev.

No matter what direction the state pursues, there is plenty of opportunity in this space. Everyone wants to be Silicon Valley. Everyone wants to be MIT or Stanford. Everyone wants to crack the code that these giants created: how do you turn academic invention into entrepreneurship and commercial success? How do you forge those transformational alliances between universities, start-ups, investors, funders and business?

To help drive these cutting-edge partnerships, we must leverage our insights into social networks and digital opportunity - where reputations are forged and broken in seconds. We have to project into the future of communications and be poised to catch our partners and clients as they land in this new space...

Spasibo bolshoi.

From left to right: Dieter Herbst, Honorary Professor, Berlin University of the Arts, Leslie Hobbs, Head of Communications,, Mircea Mihaescu, Director, Strategy, Sberbank of Russia, Sergey Mitrofanov, Chief Executive Officer, Pulsar Venture, Michael Stopford, Executive Vice President, Weber Shandwick

From left to right: Dieter Herbst, Honorary Professor, Berlin University of the Arts; Leslie Hobbs, Head of Communications,; Mircea Mihaescu, Director, Strategy, Sberbank of Russia; Sergey Mitrofanov, Chief Executive Officer, Pulsar Venture; Michael Stopford, Executive Vice President, Weber Shandwick

From left to right: Sergey Mitrofanov, Chief Executive Officer, Pulsar Venture, Ludmila Dobarina, Chief Correspondent, RIA Novosti, Moscow News and Michael Stopford, Executive Vice President, Weber Shandwick

From left to right: Sergey Mitrofanov, Chief Executive Officer, Pulsar Venture; Ludmila Dobarina, Chief Correspondent, RIA Novosti, Moscow News; Michael Stopford, Executive Vice President, Weber Shandwick


Closing Time: #BSR13

Eric Bloem

Weber Shandwick is the global agency partner for the BSR Conference 2013: The Power of Networks. Our Social Impact team will be sharing insights from the conference here on this blog as well as the Social Impact Blog.

Our third-annual BSR conference came to a close last week, bringing an end to three energizing days of networking, plenary sessions and workshops. What came through loud and clear at this year’s conference was the degree to which BSR’s network has developed over the past 21 years, and how this network has served as a powerful catalyst for inspiring solutions to the most challenging sustainability issues. 

From expanding efforts to promote worker safety in global supply chains, to understanding how businesses can best operate in a climate-constrained world, it’s that promise of collaboration and impact that keeps BSR members coming back year after year.

As we leave the annual BSR conference to again focus on our own challenges with a renewed sense of purpose, here are a few additional key insights and takeaways.

  1. Numbers matter. Innovation and new ideas are important, but to make true impact, we must scale solutions. In one session, Seth Goldman – co-founder, President and “TeaEO” of Honest Tea – discussed his decision to accept a major investment from Coca-Cola in order to “democratize” a lower-calorie drink option. In another, a speaker referenced Thomas Edison as a powerful example of the importance of scaling solution. Although Edison wasn’t the first person to come up with the light bulb concept, he was the first to be able to take it to scale.
  2. Anyone can be a leader. During our working lunch with Arizona State University and Triple Pundit, the Weber Shandwick team participated in a great dialogue about what it means to be a leader in sustainability. The consensus was that there is no shortage of ways to be a leader. They key is to choose an issue you want to lead and an issue you are best equipped to lead. Once you’ve discovered that issue, push for innovation, drive engagement among employees, consumers and other key stakeholders and communicate the impact of your programs.
  3. Solutions to our most critical challenges can come from unexpected places. We heard from the CEO of Participant Media, Jim Burke, who demonstrated how movies and documentaries are drivers of social change. Who would have thought we could develop a framework for inspiring social change using the movie industry as our guide? To drive understanding and inspire action, people need to relate to an issue area.And storytelling, whether through cinema or otherwise, is the method to make it happen. 
  4. The time is now. Perhaps the most powerful moment at BSR 2013 was Mary Robinson’s plenary discussion. Mary is the president of the Mary Robinson Foundation and former President of Ireland. As a self-declared “elder” in the social change movement, Mary spoke through the lens of her decades of experience. She recalled hearing Martin Luther King, Jr.'s “I Have a Dream Speech,” and being motivated by his powerful call to action: ”the fierce urgency of now.” While the issue may be different, Robinson pointed to this same sense of urgency in calling upon businesses to work with stakeholders to lead on climate justice.

Thank you to everyone who played a role in this year’s conference – we look forward to seeing you next year at #BSR14 in New York City!


BSR 2013: In Conversation with Honest Tea

Catie Caborn

Weber Shandwick is the global agency partner for the BSR Conference 2013: The Power of Networks. Our Social Impact team will be sharing insights from the conference here on this blog.

On the second day of the BSR 2013 Conference, I participated in a session featuring Seth Goldman, co-founder, President and “TeaEO” of Honest Tea, a Bethesda-based company with a “Mission in a Bottle.”

The company was initially started by Goldman and one of his business school professors, Barry Nalebuff, to fill the gap between the zero-calorie and the 100-calorie, sugar-laden drinks on the market. To that end, they created Honest Tea, with 20 calories.

Over the course of 15 years, the company has grown from a single niche product to offer beverages in five product lines – including a lower-calorie beverage for children. Since 1997, the brand has offered the first organic and Fair Trade-certified bottled tea, eliminated billions of calories from the American diet, supported the growth of organic agriculture around the globe, and promoted fair trade labor standards in the developing world.

But what’s particularly interesting to those of us in the social impact space is Goldman’s ability to scale a once-small company into a large, commercially successful one owned by a major global conglomerate – Coca-Cola – all while maintaining the company’s core social mission.

To take a step back, in 2011 Coca-Cola purchased Honest Tea after recognizing the growing consumer trend toward health and wellness, environmental consciousness and social responsibility. While on the surface it may seem like Goldman sold out to the big brand, the partnership has allowed the brand to scale the distribution of its beverages in a way that “democratizes” lower-sugar, organic, and free trade drink options. Goldman has also used the opportunity to influence Coca-Cola, by encouraging the company to offer its employees a 401(k) package that incorporates Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) options.

Goldman is one of the great examples of an entrepreneur who maintained the integrity of his brand by preserving a focus on health, the environment and social responsibility, while building a strong partnership with an organization that can help take that “Mission in a Bottle” to grand scale.

In close, Goldman evoked an old Chinese proverb, “If we don’t change the direction we’re headed, we will end up where we are going.” With any luck, Honest Tea’s story will inspire more entrepreneurs to use the power of business for social and environmental good.


Pop Culture as a Driver for Social Change?

Eric Bloem

Weber Shandwick is the global agency partner for the BSR Conference 2013: The Power of Networks. Our Social Impact team will be sharing insights from the conference here on this blog.

How do we accelerate social change?

With movies.

According to Jim Berk, movies can be a strong catalyst for change. Berk is the CEO of Participant Media, a company dedicated to developing entertainment that inspires and compels social change. Participant Media is responsible for well-known movies and documentaries, including The Help, Food Inc., An Inconvenient Truth, Lincoln and Contagion.

At the BSR Conference this week, Berk outlined a framework for catalyzing social change based on what he’s learned working on major motion pictures. These key elements are applicable not only to the entertainment industry, but to businesses, NGOs and any just about anyone who wants to incite social change.

1. Tell a story. And make sure it resonates on a human level. In The Help, audiences learned about the fight for civil rights in very personal terms, through the eyes of African-American domestic helpers.

2. Enlighten. Simplify a complex issue. Contagion, for example, informed and educated its audience about health epidemics in a compelling and suspenseful way.

3. Inspire. Connect with the audience. With An Inconvenient Truth, Participant Media turned a PowerPoint presentation into a film, making climate change and its impacts a vivid reality to millions of people.

4. Collaborate. With the release of Food Inc., Participant Media built a coalition of more than 100 NGO’s to educate the public about nutrition.

5. Engage. The audience needs to feel part of the experience by offering them simple actions to take. At screenings of The Cove, Participant Media invited moviegoers to tweet their disapproval of Japan’s treatment of dolphins to the U.S. Ambassador to Japan.

6. Empower. Provide information in the context of a solution. In A Place at the Table, the issue of food insecurity is highlighted, but the focus of the film is how to inspire a solution.

7. Inform. With the release of Lincoln, Participant Media connected with a network of high schools to provide students with a discussion guide that taught them about the importance of the 16th president in American history.

8. Relate. Frame issues in ways that link them to people. In The Soloist, the audience becomes deeply connected to a homeless, Juilliard-trained musician.

By taking these cues from the movies, you too can inspire social change. 


Three ideas I fell in love with before breakfast

Megan Torres

Weber Shandwick is the global agency partner for the BSR Conference 2013: The Power of Networks. Our Social Impact team will be sharing insights from the conference here on this blog.

On the second day of the BSR Conference, Marina Gorbis, Executive Director of the Institute for the Future delivered remarks during breakfast about “The Power of Networks.” Of her many thoughtful and moving comments, these three on education stuck with me.

The world as a classroom – Marina spoke of creating a disruptive, socialstructed movement to decentralize education (along with government and the way we work) and expand learning in a way that no organization can do. She shared the example of HyperCities a research and education platform where you can use your phone to travel back in time to explore the history of buildings and city spaces in an interactive environment.

Moving from episodic to continuous learning – Maria spoke enthusiastically about how content as a commodity leads to continuous learning and the rise of extreme learners. These are learners that are interested and motivated to soak up all resources available to them at any given time. She spoke of the rise of massive open online courses (MOOCs), which provide interactive user forums to build communities of extreme learners.

From institutions to learning flows – Maria spoke of learning no longer being confined to a place or an institution, but a flow. A river that you can dip in an out of. She referenced leafsnap, a free mobile app where the curious can take photos of leaves and visual recognition software can help identify tree species. Amazing. No hike will ever be the same.

This idea of open data as a means to move our work, learning and governance from institution-based to citizen-controlled was more breathtaking than the pastry bar. Maria asked the room, what idea have you fallen in love with this week? I think I just found it. 


Insights from BSR 2013: Launch Initiative Illustrates the Power of Networks

Catie Caborn

Weber Shandwick is the global agency partner for the BSR Conference 2013: The Power of Networks. Our Social Impact team will be sharing insights from the conference here on this blog.

Discussions around some of the most pressing issues facing our society, such as climate change, global poverty, or lack of access to healthcare, can often result in a gloom and doom outlook – but one of the things I love about attending our client BSR’s annual conference is the positive conversation around how organizations have accelerated progress and made an impact through a future focus. I had the pleasure of attending one such session that featured speakers from Nike and USAID (in the interest of full transparency, both clients of Weber Shandwick).

The session introduced and discussed the work of the LAUNCH collaboration, which is a global initiative between Nike, USAID, the US State Department and NASA formed in 2010 to identify, showcase, support and accelerate innovative approaches to a sustainable future that meet those urgent challenges facing our society. Since it’s inception, LAUNCH has conducted challenges focused on issues surrounding water sustainability, health and human development, efficient use of energy, and waste. Through these four challenges, LAUNCH has identified 40 game changing innovations that at scale, help create a better world. Innovations from previous LAUNCH challenges include:

  • Carbon For Water: delivering the technology to provide access to clean water to 4.5 million people in Kenya
  • Gram Power: providing thousands of people in India with affordable, renewable energy
  • Bioneedle: a biodegradable, implantable needle that delivers vaccines and dissolves in the body, allowing for mass distribution and minimal waste.

Currently, the LAUNCH collaboration is focusing on systems innovation to uncover innovations that will transform the system of textiles and fabrics to advance equitable global economic growth, drive human prosperity and replenish the planet’s resources. When you consider that each year, about 150 billion garments are created by a textiles industry that employs 40 million people globally, it is clear that there are major gains to be made in this field.

Working together, the organizations that act as conveners of the Launch Initiative acknowledge that they are able to accelerate progress and positive change that simply wouldn’t be possible without the collaboration. In this way, the session very accurately illustrated this year’s conference theme, “The Power of Networks.”

To learn more about the LAUNCH Collaboration, visit To follow along with the conversation happening around the BSR 2013 Conference, follow the Storify stream at


Insights from Net Impact Conference: CSR Reporting

Victoria Baxter

Eric Bloem and I attended last week's Net Impact conference. One session left me with a provocative reframe of CSR reporting. Teri Trielle from Cisco Systems said that her team had always been focused on preparing the report, but now they think about it as stakeholder engagement with the report as the outcome.

It might seem like a subtle nuance, but reframing reporting to be about engagement rather than solely focused on the final product is helpful in two ways. The first is something all speakers acknowledged - there isn't a huge audience for any CSR report. It can be very disheartening for the team to calculate the amount of work necessary to complete a CSR report by the comparatively small audience who will read it.
While the audience isn't large in number, it is a important one. Steve Lippmann from Microsoft used the analogy of a Velvet Underground record that might not have had huge sales, but it seemed that everyone who bought it eventually started their own band. Despite meager sales, it influenced a generation of musicians.

The second reason is to avoid or limit reporting for reporting sake. Given the influential audience who consumes reports and increased demand by responsible investors for ESG data, reporting is now a mainstream practice. Approaching this as an exercise in engaging key internal and external stakeholders puts the emphasis back on using the data to influence or at least inform business decisions. It's not just about the PDF, but the impact on policies and practices. 

Page 4 of 19 pages « First  <  2 3 4 5 6 >  Last »
  • Powell Tate DC
  • 733 10th Street, NW
  • Washington, DC 20001
  • P 202 383 9700
  • F 202 383 0079
  • Powell Tate BEIJING
  • Unit 706-707
  • 7/F, China Life Tower
  • 16 Chaoyangmen Wai Da Jie
  • Beijing 100020, China
  • 86 10 8580 4824/34

Home  •  About Us  •  What We Do  •  Our Work

Insights  •  Careers  •  Contact Us