One of the most difficult things about building a business is keeping everyone--including new hires--in tune with the greater purpose and vision of the company.
I knew from the start what I wanted Situation Interactive to be-- and why--but it took me more than 10 years to clearly articulate it. And after all these years, the one thing that I think best reinforces our "why" is the way we give back.
My agency has one core purpose: to deepen the world's connection with the live experience. I like to believe we do great marketing, great creative strategies, and great, well, a whole bunch of things. But, for us, the most powerful way to show why we exist was in a project we recently did with a middle school from the South Bronx.
Giving Kids a New Experience
The school, MS 343, is located in one of the poorest congressional districts in the country, yet it has received A's on its Department of Education report card every year for the past five years. It's one of only 32 schools in all of New York City to claim this achievement.
This year, instead of giving holiday gifts to clients, my agency spent the money to take the entire middle school to see what was for many of them, their first Broadway show: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. I knew the principal of the school wanted to reward his students for their hard work, and we felt compelled to help make it happen. I spoke quickly with the producers of the show, and they too agreed in the cause and helped us organized an amazing experience for the kids. (The producers' generosity, by the way, was another reminder of the value of giving: It's contagious.)
We let clients know that, rather than giving traditional gifts, we had donated the money toward the school's trip to Broadway; and we brought along 10 of our staffers to help out as extra chaperones. (The school also made a video about the trip; it's at the bottom of this page.)
Since then, we have expanded our efforts through our Situation Cares program, a nonprofit in which we focus our passion toward projects that fuel our inner drive. We arranged to have the Spider-Man cast visit the school to have an all-day workshop. And we're planning to repeat the whole project next year with another Broadway production.
Giving 'Back' Helps My Own Company
Giving feels good, but so do a lot of things--many of which aren't nearly as good for us. "Feeling good" wears off. Giving, on the other hand, makes sense for a lot of reasons.
When you give back to something greater than yourself, you strip away politics and commercial interests and you get to the core of what you are trying to accomplish.