August 31, 2021
Written by Melissa Orozco, Founder & CEO of Yulu PR
This past month, Yulu celebrated its first ten-year milestone.
Call me biased, but what we’ve built is so much more than a successful communications agency. Behind Yulu’s likable brand, beautiful new website, our shiny industry awards, and the super cool clients that helped us earn them, is the engine that drives this operation: our team. The tenacious, passionate group of Yuluites who have poured countless hours and immeasurable energy into making Yulu something special, intentional, and delightfully different — they’re without a doubt the thing I’m most grateful for in this first decade of our journey. The work we do, it matters. And our results are a testament to purpose being one hell of a motivator.
This team is smart. I love learning from them and I’m in awe of the way they challenge our clients in the best ways. Based on our latest client feedback survey we conducted, our clients also love learning from them! They are inquisitive, curious, and they dream big. And while thinking about what the next decade holds for us, nothing reminds us to continue to shoot for the moon quite like remembering what we’ve accomplished so far.
Way back when we moved into our tiny office in the Boat Barn on Granville Island in 2011, terms like “social impact” and “social purpose” were still considered cute, aspirational, and bad for the bottom line. But as we helped our clients hone in on parts of their stories that answered the question, “why should the world care?”, we discovered that not only was there an appetite for stories of companies using business as a force for good — consumer demands and stakeholder expectations were evolving. So too did our approach to PR. We evolved from a quarterly pro-bono campaign in year one, to a 50 percent cause-based client portfolio in year two. By year three, we committed to only working with organizations driving positive social and environmental impacts. Even our earliest campaigns challenged social norms, like Fuck Cancer’s ‘The Cancer Talk’ campaign that landed Yulu its first International Stevie Award for “Best PR Campaign of the Year,” and developing the communications strategy for World Housing’s 1-for-1 real estate gifting model, (inspired by Tom’s Shoes), which resulted in gifted homes for 400 families in the developing world.
We became the first communications firm to become B Corp Certified and helped several of our clients navigate the certification process, signaling to the world that they were part of the sea of change in business that demanded good corporate citizenship alongside generating profit. We even went on to become the agency partner for B Lab, mounting a successful campaign to fight an early iteration of the HB2 “Bathroom Bill,” which limited anti-discrimination protections in North Carolina for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community by forcing transgender people to use bathrooms that did not correspond with their gender identities. By the mid-2010s, Yulu was regarded as the leading agency for global brands looking to step into the impact space – earning the title of “Top CSR agency in North America” for several consecutive years. Our service discipline netted us clients like Red Bull, Live Nation, GoFundMe, ALDO, and Carbon Engineering. As our offering evolved to include an equal focus on impact strategy, we’ve attracted the likes of Audible, The Body Shop, and UNICEF. Yulu became a Benefit Corporation in 2020, and was among the small group of businesses that brought Benefit Corp legislation to Canada.
Though it’s been gratifying to be on the leading edge of PR’s social evolution, we believe that rising tides should lift all boats. So in 2016, we developed a new industry discipline of PR called “impact relations.” The practice of impact relations is rooted in the belief that if a story is told well, it can serve as a catalyst for positive change – leveraging the tools of communications to influence attitudes, policies, internal systems, and human behaviors, to address some of the world’s most complex challenges. To scale this ideology, we collaborated with our competitors and brand allies to develop the Global Impact Relations Network, led by a dedicated board comprised of communicators from Porter Novelli, Ben & Jerry’s, Kind Snacks, Sustainable Brands, Mission and Cause, Carol Cone on Purpose, and of course, Yulu. The organization attained 501c3 status last year, and we’re in the planning phase to pilot an Impact Relations university curriculum in 2022.
As someone who preaches transparency and authenticity to clients and colleagues, I’d be remiss not to acknowledge that getting to ten years old isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. We experimented, and sometimes we failed (oh, did we fail!). But each failure taught us something about our values as a company, our worth as a communications partner, and our bond as a high-performing (and always-celebrating) team.
To celebrate our 10-year anniversary, we’re looking back at 10 of Yulu’s most impactful moments from the past decade.
Here’s to ten more years of impact — and to future failures that foster growth.