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What “Moves the Needle”

January 20, 2017


What works to get people more involved with, invested in, and activated around an issue? ProSocial CEO Meredith Blake shares some guiding principles and lessons learned.

Great media drives attention, but strategy drives deep change.
The documentary and dramatic content getting produced today is truly extraordinary. But you can’t assume either that “if you build it, they will come” or that just because audiences are moved by great content, social change will happen. You need a plan to capture and harness attention for as much impact as possible. Identifying the levers that need to move and developing a plan to motivate your audience to help move those levers makes all the difference.

Look out for and leverage the unexpected.
A target audience is a mass group, but you want to know who the individuals are. You want to talk to people in the audiences you’re trying to reach, because they often surprise you with new insights or resources they can bring. Whatever plan you’re pursuing, you can’t predict some of these ideas and opportunities that organically arise, but you can be responsive and incorporate them into your efforts.

What’s the “act” in your activism?
Letters, calls, emails, petitions… they all have a role. Sometimes you need a million signatures, and sometimes you need the right influential person to join you in making the case. Don’t default to what’s familiar or easy or the latest flashy tech platform. Facebook likes are great, but real-world relationships and conversations still drive cultural shifts.

Campaigns live on.
Intractable social issues are seemingly intractable for a reason. When all is said and done, you aren’t necessarily going to be able to make a grandiose claim like your project completely changed the face of feminism in this country or solved climate change. But based on the nature of your campaign, there will still be metrics for measuring your impact. There’s a real value in taking action, structuring your campaign to plant seeds and create ripple effects that will continue to grow, and being part of a continual drumbeat of sharing and spreading these messages.

Doing-Good Times: A Look Back at ProSocial’s Past Decade

January 19, 2017

Ten years, tons of worthy missions, tremendous impact. A sampling of highlights.

Happy Anniversary to ProSocial!

January 19, 2017

It’s been 10 years since the start of ProSocial. In the year 2007, when the company got off the ground, iPhones launched, Twitter hashtags made their debut, the Harry Potter series broke book and box-office records and promoted cross-platform storytelling, and the sustainable food movement popularized the concept of eating locally.

The opportunity to do something innovative was palpable, and I decided to found this company in an attempt to marry the two different paths I’d taken in my career.

In the nonprofit world, I had spent more than a decade deep in the trenches as a social entrepreneur, providing direct services and strategizing and organizing around policy reforms. Later, working in the film industry at Participant Media, dedicated to producing films like An Inconvenient Truth and Good Night, and Good Luck that could inspire social change, I founded the social-action department and worked in the realms of large audiences, high visibility, and brand partnerships.

I recognized that nonprofits could better raise awareness and attract new constituents by supporting entertainment projects aligned with their message, and that issue-oriented media projects could build their audiences by tapping into the engaged networks of grassroots organizations. This work was pioneering back then, but now an entire field has developed around the intersection of storytelling and social impact, though we’re all still learning and innovating.

Helping foundations, companies, and individuals develop and execute strategies for their philanthropic missions, I have had the privilege of being surrounded by some of the smartest people on the planet, the most dedicated activists changing the world for the better, and some of the greatest innovators of our time. In any given week I can go from boardrooms to living rooms, collaborating with artists, executives, and activists to shine a spotlight on an array of issues, from global humanitarian work to the environment to education reform to the science behind developing a sense of purpose.

ProSocial has been a part of life-changing events, world-changing activations, and incredible efforts where we did our best to advance an issue while appreciating that there would continue to be both need and opportunity to do more in the future.

Thank you for following along with us in this journey and being part of our community of passionate people working in all sorts of socially conscious ways. I’m excited to see what the next 10 years will bring!

—Meredith Blake, ProSocial Founder & CEO 

Why We’re Tuning in to “Good Girls Revolt”

October 21, 2016

We're proud to be working with Amazon Studios on its original series Good Girls Revolt. Drawing from the memoir of the same name by journalist Lynn Povich, the story begins in 1969 and chronicles the journey of women working as researchers at a weekly news magazine as they become increasingly aware of differential treatment based on their gender, an awakening that ultimately affects their careers, their friendships, and their romantic relationships.

Inspired by the true story of a sexual discrimination case female employees brought against Newsweek in the 1970’s, which led to a wave of similar class-action lawsuits, the series features characters based on real-life writer Nora Ephron (played by Grace Gummer, daughter of Meryl Streep) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (Joy Bryant), who in her pre-Congresswoman days was a civil-rights attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union and represented these women in their legal action.

Good Girls Revolt launches on October 28 with ten episodes available for streaming through Amazon Prime, but the pilot can be viewed in advance. Here are some of the reasons why we’re riveted.

It comes at the perfect time. As we’re seemingly on the verge of electing the first female president and talking collectively about the inroads women have made and gender-related injustices that still occur, the show is both interestingly historical and incredibly topical.

We have personal connections to the story. ProSocial’s Director of Strategy & Communications, Sadie, is the daughter of journalists who were both working for news media during the period when the show takes place. Her mother, who helped change unfair hiring practices at one newspaper after a male executive grilled her in a job interview about her use of birth control and commented that “a pretty little thing like you ought to be home having a baby every year,” later went on to be a writer at Ms. magazine. Coincidentally, Sadie also went to college (Swarthmore) in the same class as the show’s executive producer, Dana Calvo, who began her career as a newspaper journalist before becoming a TV writer.

Research has a starring role. In the pilot episode, young researcher Patti (Genevieve Angelson) makes a last-minute flight out to San Francisco to uncover untold details behind the violence at the Altamont concert. At ProSocial, the social-change strategies we produce for clients stem from months of research, so we appreciate the show’s recognition of whatever-it-takes reporting.

It shows what goes into building a movement. Back then, women were packing together in living rooms for consciousness-raising groups and using the office restroom as a place to grassroots-organize. Now, we’re lucky to have countless forms of technology to facilitate group communication around a cause, but there’s still a lot to be said for those in-person opportunities for people to share their stories and discuss their visions for change—which is why ProSocial is organizing discussions around Good Girls Revolt at campuses around the country, such as Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Georgia Tech University in Atlanta, and Columbia University in New York.

Check out the trailer for Good Girls Revolt here.

We’ve Moved!

October 21, 2016

Office sweet office: ProSocial has a new home. As of October 1, we’ve relocated 2.3 miles away from the Santa Monica work space where we’ve spent the past three years. We’ve come a long way since launching out of the house of our founder and CEO, Meredith, nearly a decade ago. With two spacious floors to ourselves, this is our biggest office yet.

As an environmentalist who believes in keeping things out of the landfill, Meredith is an avid user of Craigslist, which has come in handy as we do a bit of decorating (reclaimed wood farmhouse table for team meetings? Score).

Our new address is 1625 Stanford Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404, and we’ve still got our same-as-usual phone number: (310) 826-0123.

Whether we’re working on a cause-related media project, philanthropic initiative, or corporate responsibility goal, you’ll find us here.

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