How did you attract public attention to the issue you wanted to tackle and make others believe in your purpose and potential?

You have a great idea about a social innovation project and you have started working on it, often day and night. So now what? Coming up with good ideas might be easy but ‘selling’ them to people you don’t know is the hardest part. Your idea can only grow successfully if you manage to create awareness around it and make others believe in your purpose and support it. We asked 8 successful social innovators from different fields, sectors and countries how they managed to attract public attention and make others believe in their potential. Here’s what they have shared with us.

‘Mainly through social media, by which almost 100% of our public was engaged. However, we also created a mailing list and posted press releases to all mainstream and non-mainstream Greek media.’ says Nicholas Protonotarios who is in charge of “The Hub Events” series of lectures in social sciences.

Nicholas Protonotarios, The Hub Events

‘TEDxAthens events provided the opportunity to build publicity and reputation.’ says Stathis Haikalis being responsible for the Human Grid Project which is about connecting social initiatives and volunteer groups in Greece.

Stathis Haikalis, Human Grid Project

‘Once we solidified our purpose, vision and mission and started running our educational programmes our first real ambassadors were participants from our events who on-boarded their peers and this is how we raised awareness at first. We then developed our online presence through social media and our website while also building our newsletter subscribers who wanted to stay updated on our work. Once our impact started growing and because there was no other initiative tacking the issue the way we were, more and more people found value in our work and joined in. The press shortly wrote stories either on our organisation or on our beneficiaries, which really helped us raise awareness. By far the most impactful way to raise awareness is through the stories of your beneficiaries, let your work speak for itself.’ says Effie Kyrtata, the co-founder and CEO of Reload Greece, a UK registered charity which enables a new generation of entrepreneurs to start businesses that have a social and economic impact in their home country.

Effie Kyrtata, Reload Greece 

‘We disseminated the idea literally on daily basis, using all our networks and contacts, we attended meetings, conferences, we presented as many times as possible, all across the globe. We also took the opportunity of being able to travel for other work-related issues, to attract attention across continents. I think that our engagement and own belief in what we are doing has contributed a lot to gaining credibility for people to believe in us. It helps that we a) look genuine in what we are saying, we speak from own convictions and don’t throw around standard marketing phrases, b) have answers to all questions because we know the topic so well from own experiences – we see nods of approval when we talk, c) we complement one other as a team, everyone has strengths in different areas of the venture.‘ says Toni Staykova, co-founder of the UKeMED Platform which works as a single open operational space to support the development and deployment of telematic services for the management and sharing of knowledge and experience among healthcare professionals in all operational aspects around the world.

Toni Staykova, UKeMED 

`We believe it is very important to engage with patient associations from the beginning. This is because they are very knowledgeable about patients’ needs and have been exposed to various initiatives. Therefore, we started by showcasing our offering to many such associations and support groups, in order to collect feedback but also to help spread the word.’ says the co-founder of Care Across, says Thanos Kosmidis who runs a digital start-up company focusing on cancer.

Thanos Kosmidis, Care Across

‘The need was self-evident; the market felt it and knew it.’ says Konstantinos Politis, founder of Socialinnov, a non-profit endeavour with a mission to eliminate the digital skills gap and high unemployment rates by educating individuals and connecting technological talent with the private sector.

Konstantinos Politis, Socialinnov 

‘The quality and value of advice, skills and connections given to our entrepreneurs has spread by word of mouth and we have never had problems attracting entrepreneurs. However, at the beginning of our journey, the concept of social enterprise was very little known in the GCC and we spent a lot of time raising awareness about social enterprise, its uses, its value and its place in society. This has borne fruit because today social enterprise is very much better understood in the region and as a result it is easier for social entrepreneurs to do business.’ says Anna-Liisa Googs, Co-Founder and Partner at C3 Partners – Executives on Demand (C3P), a UAE-based advisory firm providing senior executive support services to businesses needing temporary management solutions.

Anna-Liisa Goggs, Consult and Coach for a Cause (C3)

`I personally think the public is yet to be fully aware because the government has not shown enough ownership in the development of pupils in local communities in Nigeria and may be across Africa. Meanwhile, I think we have made significant progress in terms of engagement and advocacy. To drive home the core of our messages, we went into partnership with local newsprint, radio and television stations. Through the media, we host policy makers and political officers engaging them in discussions pertaining to implementing friendly policies in areas we are passionate about. We have engaged government advisers on education, youth and industry. We are currently engaging political aspirants ahead of general elections in Nigeria i.e executive and legislature. Finally, personal development is key to everything. People will believe in your ideas, purpose or potential when they see your personal commitment to the cause.’ says Adetunji Adeniran, Co-founder and Executive Director of Hopefield Network.

Adetunji Adeniran, Hopefield Network

Would you like to learn how inspiring social innovators answer other important questions such as how to get over your fears and move your project forward or how to raise the money for your social innovation idea?

Check out the Social Innovation Academy – the first fully online management training programme focusing exclusively on social innovation.  If you are interested in keeping up with this project, you can subscribe to our newsletter, become one of our friends or follow us on social media (LinkedInTwitter and Facebook). We welcome all requests for collaboration here.

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