by John Trybus, Managing Director

The second episode of The Social Strategist: A Conversation on Cause Based Communication features Seema Bhende, a senior vice president in the social innovation practice at Waggener Edstrom. Seema has been on a journey in her career to create an intersection between the social good and the private sector to engage the masses around social causes, as she puts it.

Seema says that she had an “aha” moment after the September 11 terrorist attacks when she realized that the “private sector was truly missing from the local impact and the communities in a significant way.”

After spending time working on social marketing projects in India and leading the cause marketing work of L’Oréal Paris among other positions, Seema found her way to Waggener Edstrom’s Bellevue, Washington office to focus on creating campaigns that help what the agency calls social innovators.

What the heck is a social innovator, you ask?

“The commonality in social innovators [is that they are] people who are taking a unique approach to solving some the world’s biggest problems,” Seema explains in the interview. “Those problems can range from education to health to safety to empowerment. But what they’re doing is looking at models that have been around for awhile, flipping them on the head and saying ‘how can we use technology?’ or ‘how can we use partnerships in a unique and different way to have a better impact?’”

She adds that social innovators can operate at all levels of society, come from unexpected places and often are successful because of the unusual, but highly effective, partnerships they enter into that ultimately help improve issues facing society.

Waggener Edstrom’s Innovation Conversations blog, to which Seema is a contributor, is worth a read if you are interested in further information about this topic.

Be sure to listen to my interview with Seema to hear her valuable insights into social innovation and her answers to a number of other questions:

  1. How do you use celebrities appropriately in cause marketing campaigns?
  2. What are some of the successful social innovation campaigns taking place right now?
  3. What’s the best way to measure the impact and success of a nonprofit, for-profit relationship?
  4. Can social innovation and cause marketing partnerships really improve lives at the end of the day?

You may be surprised to hear Seema’s responses. She’s a true social strategist.