Sustainability communications: from the board room to CMO

Sustainability communications: from the board room to CMO

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield were poster children for corporate social responsibility (CSR) for lots of reasons. The one I remember is brownies.

I shunned other brands for years because Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream used brownies from Greyston’s Bakery in Yonkers, N.Y., a charity that hired needy men and women.

My affection for jetBlue Airways deepened when the carrier planted 80,000 trees – one for every person flying on Earth Day – and invited the community to grab a shovel and help in Long Island City, Queens, home of the company’s new headquarters.

I buy Goodyear tires over other brands because the company had the guts to get involved with a CrowdHoster social media fundraiser, benefiting children in South Central Los Angeles, that asked for "ICE CUBE'S A PIMP" to be displayed on a blimp flying over LA. A compromised was reached and the phrase "IT'S A GOOD DAY" was used on the LED sign.

My latest corporate love affair is with Subaru after seeing a video showing the cumulative impact when $250 per car is donated during the automaker’s “Share the Love” events. The fact that Meals on Wheels alone was able to fund nearly one million meals was meaningful, let alone the cash directed to National Parks, Make A Wish and ASPCA.

I have long had a soft spot in my heart for companies that back smart causes, even when the campaigns don’t directly benefit the bottom line.

While at PR Newswire, I became a CSRwire groupie, even going to the extreme of showing up at the company’s Massachusetts offices in 2006 in my hybrid Prius, with our family’s three-legged rescue poodle in tow. We forged a partnership on the spot.

Later, I was attracted to work with the Facebook app developers behind the 2009 CSR initiative Chase Community Giving. Around the same time, a friend introduced me to crowd-sourced translation as his company, dotSub, was making TED Talks accessible via subtitles in hundreds of languages.

It was with that background in 2014 that I accepted the invitation to join the board of directors of 3BL Media, the leading news distribution and content marketing platform for CSR and sustainability information.

Founders Greg Schneider, Cindy Esposito Schneider and Doug Fulton were clearly onto something. They understood that corporations and non-profits are eager to share their blog posts, infographics, videos, research studies, sustainability reports and other assets with influencers who are passionate about CSR.

I was impressed with the organic growth 3BL Media had experienced, working with banks, automakers, airlines, consumer products giants and advocacy groups. Along with organic growth, the company also acquired the active JustMeans online community and the press release pioneer in the space, CSRwire.

In January, I departed the sponsored content startup and am pleased to share the news that I have joined the growing 3BL Media team as the company’s first CMO.

I look forward to partnering with leading marketing and PR professionals responsible for telling their organizations’ sustainability and CSR stories and staying engaged with the community year-round.

Watch this space for occasional profiles on comms pros willing to share their tricks of the trade.

(Illustration by Michael Marsicano, with permission. )