This year at Yellow, we’re launching a new, 12-month award series called the “Do-Good Dozen” to honor women who are using their unique skills to create true change for good, all in different work spheres. We use the phrase “do-good” a lot here at Yellow, but it looks different for everyone! You don’t have to move across the country, you don’t even need to found a company. You can do good wherever you’re at, and we want to highlight trail-blazing women who have shown up to do just that. Our hope is to shed light on the many, many ways that “good” is needed and expressed in the world – in work and in life.
Our first winner of the Do-Good Dozen is Danielle Finck, the founder of Elle Communications! Danielle saw a need in the PR industry to better serve brands who are creating an impact for good on the world. Hear more about her incredible work, who she’s currently inspired by, and the most important lessons she’s learned in our interview with her below!
Tell us a bit about the work you do, and your journey to get there!
I run an agency in LA, SF, and NYC called Elle Communications that advises organizations on PR and impact strategies. I founded the agency a decade ago after having spent the first few years of my career craving the opportunity to work exclusively on brands doing good for people and the planet, finding I was unable to find the company I wanted to work at because it didn’t exist. So… I started it myself! It was 2008 in the height of the recession, and most people didn’t think it was a feasible business idea, but here we are a decade later with offices on both coasts and with most major PR agencies now working to create their own impact divisions inside their companies.
What has it meant to you to bring purpose into your work? Has that evolved over time?
My focus on purpose as the core of Elle Communications began as a desire to use my strengths and relationships to help companies dedicated to making positive social and environmental impact.
Over time, we have become increasingly more discerning in the types of clients we take on in an effort to help grow the brands and organizations who we truly believe are doing the most effective work.
As “impact” has grown and become more trendy, there are plenty of brands masking marketing as philanthropy and we prefer to uplift those with the most thoughtful, effective, and genuine approaches.
How does doing PR for “do-good” companies differ from doing PR for brands that aren’t as socially conscious?
In many ways, it doesn’t. It’s our job to make conscious brands cool and relevant, and we employ many strategies that help our clients compete with organizations that aren’t operating for impact. After all, we’re ultimately trying to get consumers to support something that’s good for people and the planet instead of something that isn’t.
Where it does differ is that all of our clients have a more inspiring story to tell. And our efforts to support them do more than just put more money in someone’s pockets. There is so much more depth and purpose that creates a different kind of relationship with clients, journalists, influencers, etc.
What company, brand, or individual are you currently inspired by? Why?
Oh, gosh, so many! I’m inspired by brands that push consumers to think in new ways about what they consume. Patagonia laid the groundwork for this and brands like Cuyana and Christy Dawn have followed in their footsteps. I’m inspired by big brands who make strides toward a cleaner future, like Adidas and their partnership with Parley for the Oceans, which is producing shoes and apparel made from upcycled plastics.
I’m inspired by journalists like Nick Kristoff and Ta-Nehisi Coates, and media platforms like The Good Trade. I’m inspired by activists like Meena Harris, Tarana Burke, Bryan Stevenson, Ai-jen Poo, Deray McKesson, Xiuhtezcatl, Sophia Bush, and hundreds of others. I’m inspired by politicians like RBG, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I’m inspired by individuals and organizations taking on the tough, non-glamorous side of the work in pursuit of a better future like Fortune Society and Sierra Club.
I’m inspired by the people I work with and for. While I’ve called out a few examples, I don’t feel that this even begins to chip away at the list of people whose work inspires me, but it does showcase something I believe is important:
We all have a role to play in shaping the future of our planet and civilization.
I’m truly inspired by everyone who finds a way to use their time, talents, and resources to support the issues they’re passionate about.
It seems that small social enterprise start-ups rarely have the budget for PR, and yet, it can often be what they need most to get off the ground. What advice would you give to a new, small business that doesn’t have many resources yet?
We actually launched a program called Elle Beginnings a couple of years ago for exactly this reason! We work with early-stage businesses to advise and coach them on PR strategies that they then implement internally. We have worked with companies like Lauren Scruggs’ clean hair care brand, Stranded, a police transparency app called Raheem, and a business collective in San Diego called Moniker.
In your words, what does it mean to “do good”?
I don’t like to approach people and the world dualistically that some are “doing good” and others are not, because it just isn’t my place to make that judgement call. I guess the best way I could answer this is what I said above - that the world just needs us to show up and give our time, talents, and resources to the issues we feel passionately about. We all need to be thoughtful about what we consume and how we move through the world.
What’s one of the most important lessons you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
It always works out in the end. If it hasn’t worked out yet, it isn’t the end. Be patient, creative, innovative, and open to new ideas for solving and overcoming challenges.
How can we be a part of the incredible work you’re doing with Elle Communications?
We share a lot about the clients we’re working with and support on our Instagram feed. Follow us there and get involved in supporting these brands @ellecomm.
Images courtesy of Danielle Finck