Melissa Orozco is the founder of Yulu Public Relations and Impact Relations. She is an award-winning social entrepreneur with a passion for adapting innovative PR solutions to campaigns that solve social and environmental issues. She has worked with leading brands like Red Bull, the Clinton Global Initiative, Chopra Centre, SoundCloud and Topsho.
How did you get into the industry?
I began my PR career while living in New York City, and cut my teeth at one of the city's most creative PR agencies, QUINN. I've always believed that stories have the power to drive behaviour, and wanted to use PR as a force for good. In 2008 I made the move to Vancouver, a global epicenter for social innovation, and founded Yulu PR a few years later.
Any emerging industry trends?
Yulu is leading the charge in a communications industry movement called Impact Relations. We are working to bring new industry standards to communications through this movement - standards that ensure transparency, authenticity, mission-driven work and values are always prioritized. We’re really beginning to see some momentum here and are receiving some encouraging support from a range of PR agencies and in-house practitioners.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
There’s a real opportunity to build on the work PR practitioners have done over the decades. Everyone is aware that our social, economic and political landscape is drastically changing and, with that, brings uncertainty. Brands need to step up and advocate for positive social and environmental change and help challenge and shift behaviours and attitudes through storytelling.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
We built our portfolio by servicing the cause-based sector while working with nonprofit clients such as Fuck Cancer and B Lab. It was when Yulu began working with social enterprises such as the Clinton Global Initiative and World Housing that we saw an opportunity to increase our impact into new markets, reaching the unconverted. We’ve since worked with global brands such as GoFundMe, Red Bull and SoundCloud to support them in entering into the social impact space.
We've now defined Impact Relations as a whole new industry of PR, and for every campaign we work on, we aim to measure our success not only by circulation, but by social and environmental impact. We plan to continue to build our Impact Relations community, and one day see Impact Relations being taught in schools across North America and, eventually, the world. We’ve made some in-roads already so we know this goal is very possible.
What's next for the Business in the near future?
In the coming months, we plan to continue building our global network in various capacities. And, of course, continue sharing the stories and impact of wonderful brands that are driving positive and social and environmental change.
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
An international team and global network.
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
In the early days of founding Yulu, we worked with clients whose values weren't aligned with ours and we made some rather rotten people look good. What seemed like a set back of personal values at the time ended up propelling us into our specialty to focus exclusively on working with companies that are making a positive difference. I also had a business partner for a couple years and going through the divide of that relationship was trying in the best of times. But as Winston Churchill says, "if you're going through hell, keep going," and that's what I've always done.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
Our clients appreciate that we think big and challenge them to do the same. We walk alongside our clients through every stage of their development, from strategic communications planning, to story creation, to media training. We tell our clients' stories like they're our own, and they appreciate this.
How do you motivate others?
Two of my biggest motivators are knowing where I'm adding value and knowing I'm making an impact. But we're all unique when it comes to motivators. So in everything I do from a team development perspective, I look to tap into the skills and energizers within each member of my team, I ask them what motivates them, rather than assuming to know, then I work with them to build a work life they love and look forward to.
Career advice to those in your industry?
Make a commitment to yourself that you will always evolve, shoot for the stars and stick to your values. That means you'll always be relevant, you'll continually push yourself and you'll do it while being true to yourself. This combo makes for a pretty fun ride.
What do I do best?
Creative brainstorming is where I strive. I think it’s one of my most undersold assets to clients. The ideas and solutions that have come out of only one client meetings have significantly transformed a client’s. This is when I'm most in my element and happy place.
What makes me the best version of myself?
I’m the best version of myself when I’m working towards a project that has true, sustainable impact. What drives me is seeing the progress in the change that we seek.
What are my aspirations?
My aspirations are to see Impact Relations grow into a thriving new industry, supported by thousands of communications practitioners committed to using storytelling and strategic communications as a force for good and social change.
My Biggest Success?
Launching Impact Relations and seeing the community grow.
My Most Challenging Moment?
Living and working in a different city than the rest of my family has been a constant challenge. But I understand that I can have more impact in a city (Vancouver and New York) where communications is a thriving industry.
Whatever you do, make it count.
My Favorite People/Role Models?
Florence Quinn, Carol Cone, Hillary Clinton, Sheryl Sandberg
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
I think New York City is the best city in the world. But I think Tofino, BC is the most magical place on earth. I typically prefer cities but if I’m going to go into the wilderness: in the winter you’ll find me skiing in Whistler and in the summer you’ll find me sailing in BC. Whistler and Tofino are my happy places.
My Favorite Products/Objects?
My phone is my most cherished object. I also love my Google Home.
My Current Passions?
I categorize my passions by my hobbies. My favourite things to do include, traveling, skiing, sailing, Pilates, and home-cooked dinners with friends.