Toby Graff, founder of The Graff Group, a social impact consultancy, helps companies and nonprofits boost reputation, revenue and loyalty through CSR campaigns.
... [+]Women in Cable Telecommunications Signature Luncheon at Walter E. Washington Convention Center on June 10, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for WICT)Getty Images for WICT“The thing about entertainment is that it has this built-in platform where you’re basically talking to an audience of millions of people on a daily basis,” Graff explains. “Whereas in politics and government, you have to capture their attention. ... Through entertainment, we were able to incorporate issues into storylines. We were able to put a hotline number at the end of a show or a movie at Lifetime. Specifically, we used to put the Domestic Violence Hotline number at the end of a movie that addressed domestic violence. The call volume to the hotline would sometimes go up over 100%. It would be upsetting in a way that so many people needed that service, but it was heartening in a way that we were able to offer it or to at least raise awareness of its existence.”
After nine years, USA Network approached her to create a department and replicate what she was doing at Lifetime. She and her team used its platforms to raise awareness and encourage action on every civil and human rights issue in partnership with a coalition of civil rights and human rights organizations. Vice chairman of NBCUniversal, Bonnie Hammer, then asked her to take what she was doing at USA Network and implement it across the portfolio of networks. She oversaw the award-winning Characters Unite initiative and developed numerous pro-social efforts and special events tied to the networks’ original and acquired programming.
She then pivoted from entertainment to sports to head CSR for the start-up football league The Alliance of American Football. Here Graff worked on cause marketing game campaigns in the stadiums; each team partnered with a local nonprofit organization and worked with them in their communities. After the League dissolved, she decided to take this as an opportunity to focus on launching her CSR consulting agency. headtopics.com
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 18: Participants march along 17th St NW as they head toward the White House... [+]during the fourth annual Womens March on Saturday, January 18, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
The Washington Post via Getty ImagesAs Graff pivoted throughout her career, she focused on the following essential steps:Research as much as possible. Understanding what type of work is necessary for you to succeed in your next venture will help you make better-informed decisions.
Be realistic. Success doesn’t happen overnight. Take the time to put in the work and strategize.Figure out what is going to make you happier and feel like you’re serving a purpose. Life is too short not to enjoy what you spend your time on. “One important thing is recognizing the value of it [CSR],” Graff concludes. “Not just thinking of it as a cost, think of it as a real investment, and then sometimes, in some cases, as an actual revenue growth builder. ... Once people start thinking about it as an investment in their revenue and their growth, then they can start thinking about it as they’re not spending money that’s not going anywhere, but they’re spending money that’s bringing in more value.”
I’m an international speaker, author and founder of Ready2Roar. Under my LLC, I develop leadership workshops for corporations and host the Embrace the Pivot & Ummm, No!… Read MoreI’m an international speaker, author and founder of Ready2Roar. Under my LLC, I develop leadership workshops for corporations and host the Embrace the Pivot & Ummm, No! Podcasts. For the past four years, I’ve studied how individuals pivot in their careers. Additionally, I successfully defended my dissertation making me a Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership. My 15-year journey in the Sports and Entertainment industry includes assisting Hollywood agents and former NBA players, helping manage a boxer, involvement with the 2014 NYNJ Super Bowl and the ideation and execution of two major conferences. I have experienced many highs and lows being an entrepreneur. I take all my experiences, learn from them and help others bounce forward and embrace their pivots. headtopics.com
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