This year, PYXERA Global broadened the scope of its annual International Corporate Volunteerism conference to include a new twist—the Public Private Partnership Forum. Featuring a series of conversations between senior leaders of major corporations, government agencies, and nonprofits, the Forum explored the potential of public private partnerships to address substantial global challenges, why they work—and why they sometimes fail. A common refrain of the Forum was the need for more multi-sectorial partnerships to ensure real progress is made towards a better world.
Equally important, in my personal view, is the role of communications within that. There is no cookie-cutter approach to finding solutions in areas that are evolving rapidly—from emerging market economies to adaptable solutions that meet new market needs. Solutions can look vastly different based on the partners, available resources, and organizational approaches. Focusing on communications puts a spotlight on what’s working and on new models that others can draw from in addressing their own challenges and spotting opportunities.
Additionally, for leadership from diverse sectors to work towards mutually beneficial solutions, it’s imperative to understand where the other side is coming from. From an article to a Twitter Chat to a three-hour live-stream broadcast, communications can fill the perception gap by helping us better understand one another’s challenges. Leading into the Public Private Partnership Forum, for example, speaker Bo Miller, Global Director for Corporate Citizenship at the Dow Chemical Company explained how this multinational chemicals corporation believes in learning by doing in this article. Alexandra van der Ploeg, Interim Head of Global CSR at SAP, and Deirdre White, CEO of PYXERA Global, pointed to the link between leadership and global pro bono programs like SAP’s Social Sabbatical in this Stanford Social Innovation Review article. Americas Director of Corporate Responsibility at EY, Deborah Holmes, elaborates on what’s worked for EY in building an innovative skills-based volunteer strategy that aligns with the company’s business strategy.
Complex orchestration requires multiple partners
Shot in front of a live studio audience, the Public Private Partnership Forum was live-streamed on pyxeraglobal.org and amplified globally on the Twitter hashtag, #Catalyze14. This kind of orchestration requires multiple players and partners. PYXERA Global worked with several media sponsors to amplify the diverse perspectives that were featured during the event, while highlighting emerging challenges and opportunities.
CSRwire.com, for example, houses CSRwire talkback, a popular online spot for corporate responsibility thinkers to analyze the field and voice new perspectives and practices. PYXERA Global CEO, Deirdre White, penned Vocabulary Across Boundaries: The Shift to Purposeful Global Engagement, a call to action to shift from somewhat outdated paradigms of foreign aid and development to multi-sectorial partnerships and deeper levels of private sector engagement. Senior Director of Public Affairs at PYXERA Global, Laura Asiala, published Global Pro Bono: The Right Accelerator to International Development? She examined the evolution of skills-based volunteerism and what it can teach us about international development, partnership, and measurable impact.
In CSRwire’s #WhyProBono? Twitter Chat, companies such as the Dow Chemical Company, SAP, GSK, EY, Merck, along with PYXERA Global, examined how skills-based volunteering can serve as an entry point to new markets and serve to bolster local business climates. The chat looked at how increased private sector investment is influencing the shape of the international development field. You can find the full Twitter Chat here. #WhyProBono? was an important inflection point in anticipation of the Forum conversations, which explored questions such as “How can we cultivate leadership at the top and the base of the pyramid to spur economic growth? What are the right approaches to powering new business in new markets? What are the real operational realities behind a shared value partnership?”
A holistic integration of the live broadcast, the Forum, and Twitter allowed us to engage a broader base of stakeholders in the live conversation. Media sponsors, CSRwire, Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Devex, as well as this publication (@BeNewGlobal), were online moderators on Twitter. Each moderator echoed questions posed by the Forum’s moderator, Nina Easton of Fortune Magazine, on Twitter for one or two sessions. They received questions from the Twittersphere such as“#Catalyze14 - What can int’l NGOs do to partner with int’l biz working in same countries?” and “Are Africans who have been trained in the US and go back to contribute to their country truly welcomed back? #Catalyze14.” Some of these were asked of the panelists live during the broadcast.
A focus on communications provides an essential counterpoint for mission-driven organizations. It provides the ability to advance an issue by drawing those most closely affected by it into the conversation.
Katie is Director of Media Relations at PYXERA Global where she designs communications and press strategies to empower nonprofits and corporations that are impacting positive social change through their programming and their business. Before PYXERA Global, Katie founded the nonprofit communications consultancy, Wake Up for Good, where she worked with organizations including American Diabetes Association, Smithsonian Institution, Catchafire, and saveup.com.