This is the eighth post of The Next 15 blog series, which commemorates Weber Shandwick’s 15th year in Seattle. Follow this series to read about our leadership team’s thoughts and predictions on seven of Seattle’s key practice areas.
When I started working at Weber Shandwick Seattle 12 years ago, there was no Social Impact practice. While we worked with non-profits or philanthropy-related clients, it tended to be on small projects around big milestones or events.
Like many PR professionals in Seattle, I spent the majority of my time working in the tech practice, riding the wave of the dot.com era and telling stories of innovation around new software, web services and mobile devices. Eventually those innovations began to be applied to the non-profit realm, and Seattle’s vibrant philanthropic sector became increasingly interwoven with its deep technology roots.
I now see some of those same tech names and faces bringing innovative ideas to issues like global health and development. Business leaders and former execs from some of the region’s, and nation’s, top companies are now working at organizations like Global Partnerships, VillageReach, and SeeYourImpact.
This convergence has introduced new resources, perspectives and potential solutions to many of the world’s most pressing problems. From a communications perspective, the increase of organizations and individuals doing ‘social good’ fueled the emergence of our local Social Impact practice. We had new stories to tell and audiences to reach. And perhaps most exciting for those of us who are personally passionate about many of these issues and causes, it introduced new opportunities to get involved and make an impact.
The philanthropic space keeps evolving, growing, and diversifying. And as it does, so do the storytelling possibilities. Social media has and will continue to foster deeper connections to the issues at hand, organizations on the ground, and people in need. A single Girl Effect video illustrates the potential to inform people and inspire them to act – thousands saw it on YouTube and Facebook, liked it, shared it, made a donation, and/or became a loyal supporter. Girl Effect even ranked fourth in session sign-ups at 2009’s World Economic Forum. Creative content can bring to life the mission of an organization, and it will continue to be essential to win the hearts and minds of potential advocates.
So what’s next?
I hope the Social Impact sector will continue to attract new players – businesses and individuals that recognize the both the importance of making a difference not only in their local and global communities, but also the market opportunities it brings. Call it corporate social responsibility, philanthrocapitalism, or social entrepreneurship – new business-minded approaches to philanthropy will continue to transform the way we give and make a difference in the world.