Each week leading up to the Sustainable Brands Innovation Open (SBIO) finals on June 5th, where the runner-up will be decided via live online public vote, we will feature articles introducing our semi-finalists. This week, meet The Amplification Project.
“Advocacy is about persuasion, and connecting with the people that you’re trying to persuade,” says Richard Greenberg, founder of The Amplification Project, a socially and environmentally conscious company whose mission is to “translate policy research into action.”
The company seeks to drive change for social and environmental issues using strategic communication methods supported by rigorous policy research and data. The Amplification Project — which consists of policy experts, activists and digital strategists — calls its method “data-backed digital storytelling.”
Greenberg maintains that the company’s competitive advantage over other communication organizations is the collective deep-rooted policy expertise of its team. “We distinguish ourselves from other marketing groups, because we are not just marketing experts, we are policy experts. The added value of The Amplification Project is that we have changed laws, lobbied for issues and presented in front of Congress.”
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Greenberg was inspired to start the Amplification Project after successfully influencing “the City of Newark’s approach to dealing with gang violence” as a result of his thirty-minute documentary, Moral Panic. Based on a research paper entitled Do No Harm that he had prepared as a policy fellow for the New Jersey Institute of Social Justice, the film explores Greenberg’s policy reform recommendations for the criminal justice system in New Jersey, with an emphasis on making gang-related activity less violent.
Considering the significant amount of time that he had spent supplementing his policy research with diligent quantitative analysis, Greenberg had hoped to effect change solely based on his findings in Do No Harm. However, while the paper managed to garner some attention, he realized that he was far from having any of his recommendations implemented by the City of Newark.
He then decided his pages and pages of data were interpreted best when translated by creative storytelling. As a result, he set about producing a low-budget video, using gang members, law enforcement officials, policymakers, researchers and family members as the medium to illustrate his data-driven paper.
“The final product could be described as a white paper set to a soundtrack,” says Greenberg. “I was a policy wonk that had made a kick-ass movie that you want to watch while eating popcorn.”
This video, combined with his organization’s grassroots advocacy, was able to effectively reach several key stakeholders in New Jersey including legislators, law enforcement officials and private sector organizations. One of those stakeholders was Irene Cooper**-**Basch, the President of the Victoria Foundation, a grant-making institution in Newark, New Jersey, that focuses on poverty reduction in the region. Cooper-Basch then partnered with Newark Mayor Cory Booker, as well as various state and municipal law enforcement leaders, to commit more than half a million dollars and the requisite political capital to implement the recommendations of Do No Harm/Moral Panic.
Greenberg and his team at The Amplification Project are now helping other companies to effect change using the same method, by combining statistics with grassroots advocacy, infographics, videos and testimonials.
At present, they have formed key partnerships, including a handful of advertising agencies and foundations to fulfill their mission. Their goal is to keep developing relationships and working on socially and environmentally conscious issues across a diverse client base of corporations, foundations and policymakers — ranging from those seeking social policy reform to those advancing their sustainability agendas, such as the Sustainable Brands community. However, regardless of their client, The Amplification Project’s message is the same: “Show, don’t just tell.”