SBIO 2013 Semi-finalist: The Amplification Project

By Candice D. McLeod

Each week leading up to the Sustainable Brands Innovation Open (SBIO) finals on June 5th, where the runner-up will be decided via live online public vote, we will feature two articles on an SBIO semi-finalists. Meet semi-finalist The Amplification Project.

The Amplification Project is hoping to help corporations, foundations, and policymakers solve their bAP_Final_Logoiggest problems. The company seeks to drive change for social and environmental issues using strategic communication methods supported by rigorous policy research and data.

Founder Richard Greenberg maintains that the company’s competitive advantage over other communication organizations is the collective deep-rooted policy expertise of its team. “We distinguish ourselves from other marketing groups, because we are not just marketing experts, we are policy experts. The added value of The Amplification Project is that we have changed laws, lobbied for issues, and presented in front of Congress.”

Greenberg was inspired to start The Amplification Project after successfully influencing “the City of Newark’s approach to dealing with gang violence” as a result of his thirty-minute documentary called, “Moral Panic.” Based on a research paper entitled Do No Harm that he had prepared as a policy fellow for the New Jersey Institute of Social Justice, the film explores Greenberg’s policy reform recommendations for the criminal justice system in New Jersey, with an emphasis on making gang-related activity less violent.

Greenberg had hoped to effect change solely based on Do No Harm, as he had spent a significant amount of time supplementing his policy research with diligent quantitative analysis. However, while his paper had garnered some attention, he realized that he was far from having any of his recommendations implemented.

He then decided his pages and pages of data were interpreted best when translated by creative storytelling. As a result, he set about producing a low-budget video, using “gang members, law enforcement officials, policymakers, researchers, and family members” as the medium to illustrate his data-driven paper.

“The final product could be described as a white paper set to a soundtrack,” says Greenberg. “I was a policy wonk that had made a kick-ass movie that you want to watch while eating popcorn.”

This video, combined with his organization’s grassroots advocacy, was able to effectively reach several key stakeholders in New Jersey including legislators, law enforcement officials, and private sector organizations. One of those stakeholders was Irene CooperBasch, the President of the Victoria Foundation, a grant-making institution in Newark, New Jersey, that focuses on poverty reduction in the region. Ms. Cooper-Basch then partnered with Newark Mayor Cory Booker, as well as various state and municipal law enforcement leaders, to “commit more than half a million dollars and the requisite political capital” to implement the recommendations of Do No Harm/Moral Panic.

Learning from this experience, Greenberg says, “The best way to persuade today is to use data-backed digital storytelling hitched to a strategy.”

He, and his team of policy and marketing experts at The Amplification Project, are now helping other companies to effect change using the same method, by combining statistics with grassroots advocacy, infographics, videos, and testimonials.

At present, they have formed key partnerships, including “a handful of advertising agencies” and foundations to fulfill their mission. Their current goal is to keep developing relationships, and working on a range of social and environmentally conscious issues. Their present client base is certainly diverse, ranging from those seeking social policy reform, to those desiring to advance their sustainability agendas, but The Amplification Project’s message is the same – “show, don’t just tell.”

Visit The Amplification Project to learn more about how they are driving social and environmental change through strategic communication. You can also meet founder Richard Greenberg at the Sustainable Brands Solution Expo at SB’13. Enter the discount NW3pSB13 for free entry.

Candice D. McLeod is the Sustainable Brands Innovation Open Co-Coordinator. She received a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies, concentrating in Energy Management & Policy, as well as a bachelor’s degree in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. Connect with her on Twitter @candicedmcleod

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