Engaging the world in a conversation about sustainability

Guest post by Cailee Olson, an intern with Waggener Edstrom’s Corporate Citizenship team

It was not too long ago when large meetings of world leaders were simply stories on the evening news. This week we’ve seen in real-time what can happen when citizens, social media, and world leaders come together to discuss important issues facing society today.

Yesterday marked the beginning of the three-day United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development—commonly known as Rio+20– happening in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this week. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon describes Rio+20 as “…one of the most important global meetings on sustainable development in our time.” The conference takes place 20 years after the landmark 1992 Earth Summit held in Rio. The focus of Rio+20 is to engage the world in a conversation on what we want for the Earth in the next 20 years.

On Tuesday, just before the start of Rio+20, the United Nations Foundation hosted a related summit called Rio+Social. Rio+Social was designed to bring together the world, in an innovative way, to discuss such topics surrounding the new role of social media and technology as it pertains to sustained development.

Armed with my Twitter handle (@cailee_olson), computer, and personal Facebook page, I began interacting with the world. In addition to a homepage for the event, Rio+Social organizers created a Facebook page and Twitter account with a dedicated hashtag (#rioplussocial) to give the public forums to discuss what was occurring during the summit. All of these forums served different but complementary functions, encouraging the community to interact with Rio+Social channels in distinct ways:

  • Facebook: Rio+Social organizers relied on the summit’s Facebook page to create excitement and build buzz about the event among its 25,000+ fans. In March, Rio+Social launched its Facebook page by releasing a cover photo with a simple tag of “June 19, in Rio de Janeiro. It’s coming.” Then organizers released a series of countdown to Rio+Social cover photos on June 16. This created anticipation for the event, inspiring community members to share links and spread the word within their personal networks. During the event on Tuesday, organizers posted simple images of quotes from the event to keep people up-to-speed on the real-time conversation. Rio+Social shared the images in both English and Portuguese, which gave participants the opportunity to share pictures with their friends and influence people with simple messages about the summit days as it was happening and after it concluded.
  • Rio+Social homepage: This was the landing site for the event content which included a live stream of panel discussions that aired in real-time as well as videos of exclusive presentations. This was an effective and impactful way to engage supporters, defying borders, languages, and time zones that may have otherwise prohibited real-time mass interaction and discussion of major world issues.
  • Twitter: I liked searching #rioplussocial and having the ability to see how the other 4,000+ followers responding to what people were saying during the live stream. A lot of times other users would catch something I missed or would interpret an issue or statement differently than me. I appreciated seeing other sides of an issue I might not have thought of if I had just seen a video clip on a news story.

All three channels offered a forum for the general public to communicate with global leaders about sustainability. People raised questions, leaders responded and everyone bounced around new ideas. A particularly influential exchange came to life as a tweet that Leonardo DiCaprio sent to his nearly three million followers, a quote from Ted Turner during one of his presentations. Mr. Turner said “If we destroy our environment we destroy ourselves.” This one simple message – which Twitter users re-tweeted
2,519 times and 560 people liked – illustrates the reach of social media and its ability to influence a broad audience. By using #rioplussocial, DiCaprio connected with those following the Rio+Social summit as well as his own Twitter followers.

It will be interesting to see if this trend continues with other global meetings of the same nature. As someone who participated, it was a powerful experience to see people from all walks of life talk about sustainability and how each of us plays an important and unique role in ensuring a safe and healthy planet for future generations.

Communications Scholars, The LAGRANT Foundation and WE: A “Communications Conversations” Event

Last week, we welcomed nine college students to WE’s Seattle office to spend a day engaging in activities to prepare them for careers in our industry. These students are all connected to The LAGRANT Foundation, an organization that provides opportunity to students who aspire to become communications professionals. It does this by providing ethnic minority college students with scholarships, career workshops professional development, mentoring and internships.

To say we were impressed by the scholars who joined us is an understatement. All of them — Chelsea, Fabiola, Greg, Judy, Kara, Mintwab, Monica, Sandra and Senait — brought such passion, curiosity and intelligence with them; it is clear that they will one day be leaders of our industry!

The students also brought with them a good deal of experience. Nearly all of them have held at least one internship, and several of the students hold leadership positions in organizations at their respective universities.

We packed our Communications Conversations event with interactive sessions and inspiring speakers for the students including the following:

  • A client visit from Amy Barzdukas, general manager of Communications for the Server & Tools Business at Microsoft, who shared advice and best practices from her career in both the publishing industry and the technology sector.
  • A brainstorm session during which the students tackled a business problem presented by See Your Impact, a WE pro bono client.
  • Hands-on training with WE’s People Services team and hiring managers that included resume reviews and mock speed dating-style interviews.
  • Intimate conversations with WE founders Pam Edstrom and Melissa Waggener about their careers in communications.

Communications Conversations added a new dimension to the agency’s relationship with The LAGRANT Foundation. In addition to financial support and the commitment of time and expertise by WE leaders including Pam Edstrom who is on The LAGRANT Foundation’s board of directors, over the past several years the agency has been fortunate to welcome LAGRANT scholars to the WE family in both full-time and internship positions.

Two of the students who joined us for Communications Conversations last week will guest blog about their experience on The LAGRANT Foundation’s website. We’ll be sure to share their stories here as well!

Celebrating Waggener Edstrom Worldwide Volunteers [Infographic]

Silvia Ashmore, Community Relations Program Specialist, WE-Portland

April is National Volunteer Month in the U.S. At Waggener Edstrom Worldwide (WE) we want to recognize and thank all our volunteers around the globe by launching our second annual employee incentive campaign called Give 16, which will run April 16 through Nov. 16, 2012.

Each year, WE offers employees up to 16 hours of paid time to volunteer their time to make a difference in the world during work hours. In addition to our ongoing Volunteer Grant program, staff members who use all of their 16 volunteer hours benefit AND persuade a colleague to use their hours as well can apply for a bonus grant to benefit the organizations where they volunteer.

Employee volunteering has a significant impact on our company’s annual goal to contribute up to 1 percent of WE’s total fee revenue to the communities. WE exceeded its annual goal last year and donated $1.2 million to nonprofit organizations. Throughout the year, we share stories about our employees’ inspirations, motivations and passions in the communities. To learn more about the power of our employees’ volunteering efforts, check out this 2011 Year in Review infographic showing how our employees clocked 6,000 hours using their benefit, which translated into true social impact. This is only half of the story. This month we’re celebrating the power of collaboration, for the greater good.

A Q&A with Waggener Edstrom’s Office Manager in Mumbai

“I don’t think it’s important to be successful and you can’t measure it. I just like to LIVE and take each day as it comes and play my part”, says Shalini Pathak. She is the office manager at Waggener Edstrom’s Mumbai office and is responsible for the office administration and assists the entire team with their administrative needs. Though she efficiently coordinates the finance and HR, she confesses that numbers are not her best friend and even simple math drives her up the wall. Shalini quickly gets attached to people, places and things. She has a mental list of ‘things to do before I die’ and her ambitious nature is symbolized by her stars and dice tattoo. Grishma Samuel, found out a few more interesting things about Shalini, which came out of this brief Q&A session with her.   1. How do you add value to WE with your roles and responsibilities
  • I believe the best way to lose weight is to help other people lose weight (not literally) and I try to follow it. I might fail to diet on my own, but if I decide to help someone else diet, I will feel more committed and more likely succeed. At work it is just as simple, I try and become an engaged employee, help others (exactly what my role demands) and in the end this is what makes me love my job.
  1. Where did you work prior to joining Waggener Edstrom?
  • Skyway RMC Plants
  1. How do you prefer to unwind after a hectic day at work?
  • By Spending hours in front of the TV :)
  1. One event in history you would’ve loved to be a part of?
  • 15th April 1912, the wreck of the Titanic…not necessarily at the time of the “wreckage” but would have loved to be a part of THE journey to witness the grandeur.
  1. If you weren’t working at Waggener Edstrom, what else would you have been doing?
  • Owning a shack in Goa and making enough monies to travel around the world :)
  1. You favorite movie quote
  •  ‘Nothing is more necessary than the unnecessary’ (From my most favorite movie “Life is Beautiful”)
  1. One thing about your job that you think is the best
  • The people I work with
  1. If something could define you, what would it be?
  • A song by Lady Gaga “Born This Way” best defines me.
 (Interview by Grishma Samuel, Account Coordinator, Waggener Edstrom, Mumbai, India)

A Q&A with Waggener Edstrom’s Office Manager in Mumbai

“I don’t think it’s important to be successful and you can’t measure it. I just like to LIVE and take each day as it comes and play my part”, says Shalini Pathak. She is the office manager at Waggener Edstrom’s Mumbai office and is responsible for the office administration and assists the entire team with their administrative needs. Though she efficiently coordinates the finance and HR, she confesses that numbers are not her best friend and even simple math drives her up the wall. Shalini quickly gets attached to people, places and things. She has a mental list of ‘things to do before I die’ and her ambitious nature is symbolized by her stars and dice tattoo. Grishma Samuel, found out a few more interesting things about Shalini, which came out of this brief Q&A session with her.   1. How do you add value to WE with your roles and responsibilities
  • I believe the best way to lose weight is to help other people lose weight (not literally) and I try to follow it. I might fail to diet on my own, but if I decide to help someone else diet, I will feel more committed and more likely succeed. At work it is just as simple, I try and become an engaged employee, help others (exactly what my role demands) and in the end this is what makes me love my job.
  1. Where did you work prior to joining Waggener Edstrom?
  • Skyway RMC Plants
3. Continue reading "A Q&A with Waggener Edstrom’s Office Manager in Mumbai"

A Q&A with Waggener Edstrom’s Office Manager in Mumbai

“I don’t think it’s important to be successful and you can’t measure it. I just like to LIVE and take each day as it comes and play my part”, says Shalini Pathak. She is the office manager at Waggener Edstrom’s Mumbai office and is responsible for the office administration and assists the entire team with their administrative needs. Though she efficiently coordinates the finance and HR, she confesses that numbers are not her best friend and even simple math drives her up the wall. Shalini quickly gets attached to people, places and things. She has a mental list of ‘things to do before I die’ and her ambitious nature is symbolized by her stars and dice tattoo. Grishma Samuel, found out a few more interesting things about Shalini, which came out of this brief Q&A session with her.

  1. How do you add value to WE with your roles and responsibilities

  • I believe the best way to lose weight is to help other people lose weight (not literally) and I try to follow it. I might fail to diet on my own, but if I decide to help someone else diet, I will feel more committed and more likely succeed. At work it is just as simple, I try and become an engaged employee, help others (exactly what my role demands) and in the end this is what makes me love my job.

2. Where did you work prior to joining Waggener Edstrom?

  • Skyway RMC Plants

3. How do you prefer to unwind after a hectic day at work?

  • By Spending hours in front of the TV :)

4. One event in history you would’ve loved to be a part of?

  • 15th April 1912, the wreck of the Titanic…not necessarily at the time of the “wreckage” but would have loved to be a part of THE journey to witness the grandeur.

5. If you weren’t working at Waggener Edstrom, what else would you have been doing?

  • Owning a shack in Goa and making enough monies to travel around the world :)

6. You favorite movie quote

  •  ‘Nothing is more necessary than the unnecessary’ (From my most favorite movie “Life is Beautiful”)

7. One thing about your job that you think is the best

  • The people I work with

8. If something could define you, what would it be?

  • A song by Lady Gaga “Born This Way” best defines me.

 (Interview by Grishma Samuel, Account Coordinator, Waggener Edstrom, Mumbai, India)

One Year Later…Home Sweet Home!

Colby Reade, Account Executive

A few weeks after I started at Waggener, I wrote a post for this blog about the initial integration process and how impressed I was with the way that Waggener “walks the walk” in that department.

 Fast forward and, hard as it is to believe, I’m approaching my one-year “Waggeversary” on the Windows team which means the honeymoon phase is officially over. I’m no longer the happy-go-lucky newbie savoring the “new car smell” of my cube and relishing the various, unique qualities that set Waggener apart from other employers (hello free Talking Rain!). I’ve gotten my hands dirty … I’ve worked the long hours we all hear about … I’ve had the late night client emails … the surprise deliverable asks … the emergency reactive situations. And like any good relationship, I have to say I love it more now than I did 12 months ago.

 

The agency does a lot to make the work environment enjoyable … Intern Fun Week … War Rooms … Donut Thursday … but there are a few big reasons why I am truly passionate about showing up to my cube every day and why I sing Waggener’s praises every chance I get.

 Work Life Balance is more than just a buzz word.  Many companies urge their employees to find “work life balance,” but actually taking the time to achieve this balance can be difficult. In some cases, a team is horribly short staffed so employees can’t get away without the organization collapsing.  In other cases, employees worry about the security of their job if they disappear for time off and the world continues to function in their absence. For several reasons workers are not taking all of their vacation time these days. Not the case at Waggener. While you can’t just take off at any time and for any duration, Waggener makes sure team members feel comfortable logging off to recharge.

 Waggener treats employees like adults. I can remember my first week here, checking in everyday with my manager before I ran to get coffee at Starbucks or ducking out for lunch. After a few days, Bonnie kindly let me know that the head’s up were not necessary … that she’d call my cell phone if the world was collapsing but otherwise, any work could wait fifteen minutes until I got back. This is emblematic of a bigger theme. There are no clock watchers at Waggener. Yes, we monitor our time, but managers know we work hard and will deliver gold standard work on time, so there are no Bill Lumberg’s wandering around making sure that coffee breaks last ONLY 15 minutes and that we are seated at our computers promptly at 9 AM. Management trusts the team because we show up and work hard.

 Waggener believes in flexibility. We had some work done on our house this year which meant a few days with repairmen who needed to be babysat. Instead of having to brick time off of my calendar and be “off” for half a day (or a full day in some cases), I simply plugged in at home and was able to keep plugging away as if I were at my desk in 3CP. For anyone who has had to skip work to wait on a contractor you know how valuable that freedom to stay on top of your to-do list instead of just sitting and waiting can be.

 Waggener hires brilliant people. One of the things that sold me on the chance to come work for Waggener was the opportunity to learn from some really smart individuals and this place has not disappointed. From watching Mark Martin lead the Windows business to the careful review and feedback I get from my manager, Bonnie, to the knowledge sharing sessions I have with my fellow Windows UnLeaded teammates … I am literally surrounded by “brilliant” every day. The growth I have seen in myself over the last 12 months is due, in large, LARGE, part to those folks and their positive influence. 

 Working for Waggener? Best. Career Move. Ever.