May 19, 2024

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A Storyteller at Heart: The Birth of Impact Relations

The Journey of Words

On the back of Melissa Orozco’s card is a stream of white type set in a field of red. The words are a brief manifesto that pack a punch:

Impact Relations is the discipline of sharing powerful stories to drive positive impact. Our Mission is to set a new standard for the way organizations communicate. No spin. No fluff. Just authentic, transparent communications and strategic storytelling.

Interested? Melissa can tell you more.

Melissa founded Yulu six years ago as a communications firm based in Vancouver and New York City. Three years later, she found her true calling to establish a new discipline and a new industry she dubbed “Impact Relations.” The name Yulu is derived from two Mandarin words, “yu”, meaning “speak”, and “lu,” meaning “road.” Together, they reflect the journey of words traveled by Melissa, her team, her clients, and a global audience seeking transparency, authenticity, and accountability in business and in life.

Melissa Orozco at Sustainable Brands, Detroit 2017

Impact Relations complements the related disciplines of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and public relations (PR), while serving a different purpose. While CSR and PR are primarily communications practices, Impact Relations is fundamentally creative. The Impact Relations professional assesses the state of the current situation, acknowledges the issues, and then works to manifest a positive impact by directly creating change.

Co-Creating a New Reality

The Impact Relations professional currently serves primarily in a consultative role with an outside agency. But Melissa is working to expand the field to include a variety of career paths within corporate environments, as independent practitioners and as part of an integrated team that includes product development, marketing, and other related disciplines. Melissa believes an academic program will be a critical foundation for the discipline, and will attract talent to the field that can co-create new realities by focusing on making positive change happen, rather than telling stories about changes that are led by others or spinning tales to distract from unfavorable news.

“Just as the demand for socially responsible investment banking opportunities gave rise to impact investing,” Melissa said, “a desire to engage with brands making a positive impact has paved the way for a new subset of communications devoted entirely to raising the profile of those that do good.” This is fitting given that the Impact Relations project of which she is most proud was for Modern Adviser, an online wealth management system. Competition among robo-advisers for millennial clients is fierce. Yulu was initially hired to manage the public relations for the ModernAdvisor launch. Melissa convinced her client to hold up the launch in order to meet the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standard.

Melissa Orozco, Founder of Impact Relations

Working with ModernAdvisor, Melissa created a new reference point for robo-advisers. When larger, more established competitors such as Wealthsimple offered ESG-rated investments, ModernAdvisor was cited as the seminal influence.

The Seeds and Fruits of Impact Relations

Melissa started college at the University of New Mexico, in her home state, before transferring to Hunter College in New York. Her first gig was with specialty lifestyle PR firm Quinn & Co. focusing on real estate and travel. One of her projects was promoting the Visionaire in Battery Park, the first LEED Platinum residential building. As the daughter of a builder and contractor, Melissa quickly understood the significance of the sustainability movement and took her craft to Vancouver, home of the Urban Land Institute, the epicenter of the field.

Today, Melissa is working on an Impact Relations program for Red Bull that will launch in Baltimore this fall. As more companies learn the benefits of co-creating impactful programs with Melissa and her team, the field will expand, the discipline will evolve, and Melissa will see her dream manifest globally.

Melissa envisions the practice of Impact Relations taught at major universities, supported by a non-profit certifying board, and practiced by professionals in many languages and cultural contexts around the world.

You can learn more about Yulu’s body of work at Yulu PR



Featured Image Courtesy of: Melissa Orozco

You may be interested in this additional post from Sustainable Brands Detroit John Havens

Picture of By David Levine

By David Levine

I'm the founder & CEO of Scoby Society, a platform for shared experiences that matches creators and their dream clients. I live in the woods on the river in West Virginia just far enough from Washington, DC.

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