When you help people do PR well, you’re helping to advance world-defining issues

Posted 19 October 2022

Improbable’s Head of Public Relations, Camille Oster, on volunteering at Women’s Voices.

I head up Public Relations for metaverse company Improbable and previously led the Emerge team at Edelman, specialising in PR programmes for fast growth start-ups and scale-ups. I have nine years’ experience in global corporate communications in the technology, start-up and financial services industries.  

As a recently self-proclaimed feminist, I’ve volunteered at Women’s Voices for a couple of years, and it’s always been very fun and really gratifying. Being able to “communicate” well for charities is critical. But those guys don’t often have the budgets to invest in PR teams, so if I am able to make a small difference, even just for a day, and help them understand what it takes to make themselves – and the really important issues they’re calling out – noticed, then having spent years gathering that experience makes it all worth it.  

I volunteered with Word Forest, a charity that is creating a virtuous circle between education, women empowerment and tree planting in Kenya. Simon and Tracey, the very personable and very inspiring founders, wanted some help with planning their ‘Trees Are The Key’ awareness week and how to make the most of that event to create sponsorship collateral.  

We started with that, and then  – inevitably – moved into a broader discussion about how Word Forest are doing PR in general. Alongside two other volunteers focusing on marketing, social and events, we brainstormed with Tracey and Simon on how we could help them optimise their content and reach potential partners better – with the event becoming a good testing ground for a more effective communications strategy in the future. 

The best bit of volunteering for me was probably when we got deep into the positioning and descriptor of the charity itself and landed on the idea of using “virtuous circle” to more effectively explain what they do. I love this type of stuff and they responded really positively to our ideas and suggestions (I’m continuing to push the idea – see the opening paragraph…).   

The best part of the day full stop was when they said their plans for that evening included sleeping outside as part of a fundraiser to raise awareness of domestic abuse – after having inspired us all day with their environmental activism, proud veganism, circular economy advocacy, and much more. We should really all be more like Simon and Tracey. 

All in all, I think we were able to give them a good rundown of the basics they can do easily and quickly but which have a big impact. Things like SEO tips, website advice, how to revise their mission statement. This should be helpful in instilling a little bit more structure and strategic thinking into how they look at communications.  

Simon and I haven't stopped talking about the brilliant ideas the Women’s Voices volunteer crew spotlighted for us! It was our privilege to have you all as our willing audience. Your suggestions will unequivocally help Word Forest be the best it can be

Tracey West

Hopefully this means their message is clearer, bolder, and they have the tools to get more corporate partners to understand immediately the benefits of working with them. That, then, ideally leads to more funding and more volunteers, which ultimately support the women in Kenya and the local education system and biodiversity.  

After the event, I followed both of them on LinkedIn to see what they were up to (and check whether they follow our advice). We kept in touch and through a very timely turn of events, I became their newest trustee in July this year. I’m still finding my feet and figuring out how to be a good, active trustee, but all of this has been such a cool experience. Word Forest are basically merging the two things that make me feel both the angriest and the most hopeful: women’s rights and climate change. No better cause for me to join.  

If you’re finding yourself in need of some non-profit purpose alongside your corporate communications day job, go and volunteer with Media Trust and their charities. You’ll help solve some very real, world-defining issues by helping their advocates communicate better about them – and you’ll hopefully commit to a cause for the long term. 

Also, if you’re a corporation looking for environmental charities to partner with to plant trees, fight climate change and empower women and children in parts of the world that need it most, please check out get in touch with Tracey or contact the Word Forest team here. They are awesome, and they need all the help and funding they can get.  

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