Collaboration With Media/Business

Beth van Heerden, corporate social investment (CSI) executive of FirstRand Limited, says collaboration is beneficial because it allows for efficiency, instead of duplication of efforts or media fatigue around a particular initiative. As an example, she says that the FirstRand Foundation hosts three CSI that Works knowledge-sharing events annually, which bring together a variety of stakeholders around a topic of shared interest (such as early childhood development or gender-based violence). The organisation works with the Mail & Guardian newspaper as a key media partner, which publishes a report on the events. In 2014, however, the partnership developed even further as the newspaper approached FirstRand to co-host a debate on mathematics education in South Africa.

Instead of hosting two separate events on the subject and risking splitting the audience, van Heerden explains that it made more sense to work together for one, powerful event, which would be publicised by both FirstRand and the Mail & Guardian. “As you do great work in one area and begin to be known for it, opportunities for collaboration arise naturally,” she says. “If you have a good reputation, people who want to collaborate will contact you. The key is to be open to working together and not have a territorial attitude. We firmly believe that social investment should not be a competitive environment, and we make sure that our public communications show a willingness to partner.”

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This takeaway was derived from Communication That Counts.