Paul Massey's picture

Paul Massey

Executive Vice President

Successful strategy is about getting from point A to point B. And few things make Paul happier than building and implementing successful plans – whether it’s developing a creative CSR or social engagement campaign to help shift awareness and engage advocates for clients, or mapping out a trip to check out a different part of the world. Paul excels at asking the right questions, listening carefully, and framing out strategies that deliver results. He also has a well worn passport. As a leader of Social Impact, Paul works with corporations, nonprofits and foundations on brand building, public education and issue advocacy assignments. He’s provided counsel on how to engage audiences on a range of global development, humanitarian, human rights, education and healthcare issues. He oversees Weber Shandwick’s work with Pepsi on the Pepsi Refresh Project and led the agency’s work with Best Buy on several initiatives, including @15, a program to listen to teens and support their efforts to lead social change. Paul is a proud native of New Jersey. He received his B.A. from Rutgers University and Ed.M from Harvard University.

Follow Paul on Twitter: @p_massey


Member for
5 years 22 weeks
Oct 25

Our Plans to Storify the BSR Conference

Paul Massey

Next week, our team heads to San Francisco for the 2011 BSR Conference.  (Weber Shandwick is the global agency partner for BSR.) We’re looking forward to seeing familiar faces and to contributing to the conversation on how companies are leading the way to a more sustainable future.   We’re also excited about our work with BSR to Storify the event, which will offer conference attendees, and interested parties around the globe, access to real-time content from the conference.  Whether it’s takeaways from plenary sessions with Al Gore, Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn, and Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Carlos Brito, or insights from discussion of topics such as the impact of technology on sustainability, effective engagement with consumers on sustainability, and more, the #BSR11 Storify channel will have a curated stream of conference highlights. 

Sep 19

What are the Questions on your Mind?

Paul Massey

At this point in the year, the conversation among our Social Impact colleagues is especially animated around two questions: (1) how the summer flew by so quickly, and (2) which topics we want to examine in our annual research project with KRC Research to illuminate key trends and notable developments in corporate social responsibility (CSR), or nonprofit and foundation communications.

In the past, we’ve interviewed top executives at Fortune 2000 companies to explore the impact of crowdsourcing in CSR and the drivers of corporate investment in CSR.  We’ve also conducted research with nonprofit and foundation executives to explore how their organizations are using social media and the value they derive from these efforts.

In building our upcoming research plans, we want to consider how changes in the communications ecosystem are creating new opportunities (and challenges) for corporate and social sector organizations to drive awareness and engagement around their work.  We want to shed light on the innovations, platforms, and strategies that are making the most significant impact in the work of companies and nonprofits to create social value.  

This year, as we develop our plans, we’d love to hear from you.  What questions would you like to see explored?  How are companies integrating CSR strategies more directly with business strategies? How are corporate leaders communicating their CSR investment in today’s economic conditions?  How are nonprofits bringing new creativity to driving advocacy in a saturated environment?  What are the most meaningful forms of measurement for social engagement?  Let us know what’s on your mind.


Feb 9

The Role of Crowdsourcing in Social Media

Paul Massey

Late last year, our team partnered with KRC Research to interview more than 200 top executives at Fortune 2000 companies who have responsibility for philanthropic, social responsibility or community outreach.  For more than a year, we’ve been fortunate to see the powerful impact of crowdsourcing in CSR through our work with Pepsi on the Pepsi Refresh Project.  

With this survey, we wanted to understand new developments in the CSR sector, in particular, the role of crowdsourcing and social media in raising awareness and driving engagement.  Here’s what we learned.

Forty-four percent of executives we surveyed say they have used crowdsourcing – asking customers to provide ideas and help in decision-making. Among those executives, an overwhelming 95 percent reported that it was valuable to their organization’s CSR programming.

When asked why crowdsourcing is so valuable for CSR, executives said it:

  • Surfaces new perspectives and diverse opinions (36%)
  • Builds engagement and relationships with key audiences (25%)
  • Invites clients and customers from nontraditional sources to contribute ideas and opinions (22%)
  • Brings new energy into the process of generating ideas and content (16%)

The fact sheet and PowerPoint below summarize a number of additional findings, including perspective on crowdsourcing from executives who haven’t used it, and several findings on the role of social media (including specific channels such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) in raising awareness and driving engagement for CSR.

We’re going to be talking on our blog about the implications of these findings and any questions they may prompt.  We’d welcome your questions or comments.   


Crowdsourcing & Social Impact in CSR

WS Social Impact Five Fast Facts CrowdSourcing

Dec 2

Why Corporations Invest in Corporate Social Responsibility

Paul Massey

For our team, as we considered topics to explore in our second annual Social Impact survey, one question rose quickly to the top: Why are corporations motivated to invest in CSR? And, what are the key success factors and lessons learned from recent CSR efforts? 

Today, we’re releasing the findings of our survey of more than 200 corporate executives in large-sized companies with responsibility for philanthropic, social responsibility or community relations, conducted in partnership with KRC Research in October 2010.

Here’s the major takeaway: Having an impact on critical issues is the number one reason why corporations are investing in philanthropic or socially responsible activities.

  • Other Motivating Factors for CSR: A second reason given for funding CSR is the opportunity to see an organization’s values in action. Interestingly, having an impact on critical issues (30%) outranked several more business-oriented motivations, such as building customer loyalty (15%), differentiating the company from competitors (6%) and engaging and retaining employees. The last finding suggests the need for companies to better understand the link between CSR and employee satisfaction, a topic we’ll explore later this month.
  • Nonprofits Critical to CSR:  The news for nonprofits is very positive, with 8 in 10 executives saying they consider nonprofits valuable partners.  Nonprofits are seen as ideal partners because they make their CSR investment more effective, provide a critical foundation and infrastructure, contribute expertise and help engage consumers. 
  • Senior Leadership Drives Success:  Nearly all executives reported that strong and vocal support from senior managers (94%) and well-defined objectives and outcomes (91%) are the most important ingredients in creating successful CSR programs.

What these findings highlight for our team is a shift in why CSR programs are undertaken.  Corporations are looking at community needs and asking how they can narrow and better focus their resources and expertise to foster genuine change on specific critical issues.  Given the urgent need for action in the U.S. on vital issues such as education, health and wellness, economic development and environmental sustainability, that’s encouraging news. 

We’ve highlighted key findings and our perspective on the strategic implications they present for corporations and nonprofits in a two-page PDF that you can download.  You can also view a detailed PowerPoint.  Let us know what findings you find interesting and if they prompt questions you’d like us to explore on these pages.


WS Social Impact CSR Five Facts

Sep 21

Social Good Summit, initial takeaways

Paul Massey

Social Impact was a partner in the Social Good Summit, along with Mashable and the UN Foundation. We'll be sharing some insights from the conference here on this blog.

Kicking off United Nations Week, journalists, nonprofits and celebrity advocates met in New York yesterday to focus on how new-media technology can help us reach the U.N. Millennium Development Goals.

Attendees heard from actor Ed Norton about Crowdwise, the social good site he founded, and from Ted Turner about how social media can help push the world toward nuclear non-proliferation.

Here were some other highlights:

  • (Red) CEO Susan Smith Ellis set the tone by announcing that her organization has set the goal of ensuring that no child is born with HIV/AIDS by 2015. “Social media will be the engine of our success,” she said, while sharing this video.
  • Adam Conner of Facebook pointed out that the MDGs were written before the advent of the social Web. In 2000, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter did not exist. Online gaming was a fraction of what it is today. “Bringing the social context of that to real-world problems is a tremendous opportunity,” Conner said. “There is a huge possibility for online action that results in real-world results.”
  • Sherri Rollins Westin explained how Sesame Street is promoting social awareness around the MDGs through the new character Kami, who is HIV-positive. “Kami makes it okay to talk about HIV/AIDS,” Westin said. “She provides basic facts and models healthy ways to grieve a loss.”
  • MTV CEO Judy McGrath said that anyone who creates media content has an opportunity to impact change. MTV was the first TV network to mention HIV/AIDS. “Social media can make it easy for people to take action,” she said. “And young people genuinely care about global issues like poverty and disease.” McGrath concluded by telling the crowd something it probably didn’t know: Snooki from Jersey Shore volunteers.
  •        Jack Leslie, chairman of Weber Shandwick.
  •   Our own Jack Leslie, chairman of Weber Shandwick and chairman of the U.S. African Development Foundation, stressed that engagement means talking to people about what   they care about. “Think of people as advocates, not consumers,” he said.
  •  Addressing the summit via Skype, Wine to Water founder Doc Hedley said: “If you find something you care about, no matter who you are or what you do, you can make a difference.”

Weber Shandwick was proud to be a partner in this meaningful event, and we look forward to continuing our efforts supporting nonprofits and foundations as they work toward the Millennium Development Goals.

Sep 7

Crowd sourcing for online giving?

Paul Massey

Crowdrise, a social networking site that generated some good buzz in May when it was launched by Edward Norton and three partners, was the subject of an interesting  article in Sunday’s New York Times.  Crowdwise makes it easy for people to  create pages in support of causes they believe in and rally people to join their teams, showing support through small dollar donations.  It’s also a way to organize people around volunteer projects.  

For nonprofit organizations, it’s an appealing new option for recruiting supporters – and inviting them to energize their networks in support of a cause.  The site distinguishes itself with a healthy sense of irreverence (always good), and opportunities for participants to earn points, and ultimately, prizes.  It’s not the only platform of its kind (see: Facebook Causes or, but it stands apart with its lively personality, clear focus on engagement and a fun mix of celebrity participants.

As we head into the last quarter of the year, a season of many fundraising requests, I’m curious to see how organizations integrate Crowdrise into their outreach in creative ways, as well as how people (just like you and me) use the platform to draw attention to causes they’re passionate about.   Ultimately, that’s what’s most appealing about the site – how easily it can help people become fundraisers.  That, and of course, Crowdrise’s tagline: “If you don't give back no one will like you.”‬‬

Jun 28

Thinking About Social Media

Paul Massey

Last week I spoke on a panel in front of several nonprofit Asian American organizations in the U.S.

Among the organizations in attendance were the Asia Heritage Foundation, Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program, DC Mayor’s Office of Asian & Pacific Islander AffairsNational Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP). The focus of the panel was on the use of social media in the nonprofit sector to help build a strong community that will attract potential funders.

To start the conversation, I discussed three of the most frequently asked questions I encounter in our team’s work with nonprofits:

 1.    Why should my organization focus on social media given all of our other priorities? In a world that is increasingly digitally connected, social media is a powerful way to open up your organization to potential supporters and advocates.  Social media creates opportunities to build awareness and engagement—around how you’re approaching your work and what you’re learning, for instance—and to communicate your impact. 

2.    What does it take to get it right?  For most nonprofits, and particularly those with limited resources, a good rule of thumb is to start small. Experiment. Learn along the way. Join in current conversations on online channels and try to spark new discussions. Let your personality show. An organization that brings a real personality to its social media, shows that it’s interested in listening and learning, and offers compelling content, is going to be met with success.

3.    What are the pitfalls to avoid? It’s best not to view social media as a stand-alone program rather than integrating it into an overall communications strategy. Being afraid to try new things on social media for fear of failure, or because there isn’t a guarantee of success is another. (When is that a guarantee, incidentally?) Finally, not building the infrastructure or creating a plan to sustain a social media program is often a challenge – one best avoided by tackling questions about staff capacity up front. 

The session offered a lively question and answer period, and a great discussion afterwards.  Are there additional questions or recommendations you would have raised with the group?

Jun 9

What does it mean to be a catalyst?

Paul Massey

I’ve been in a number of conversations recently with leaders in the philanthropic and nonprofit sector where the term “catalyst” is starting to feel like the term of the moment.  It’s not a new one, certainly, but it did get me thinking: What does it mean for an organization to be a catalyst? And, how has an explosion in social media enhanced nonprofits organizations’ ability to be a catalyst?

First, some context.  Most often, the term is used as follows: We want our organization to be a catalyst for social change.  Meaning, we want to bring resources and expertise to bear on an issue, and we want to enable and inspire others – individual advocates and allied organizations – to take action that brings about measurable impact and outcomes on a social issue. 

To deliver on this promise, organizations need to show audiences what it means to be a catalyst in practice.  They need to provide insights, data and stories about their missions, theories of change and programs, plus how they empower partners, capture lessons learned and measure success.

That’s where social media has such a powerful role to play.  Through social media, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or another platform, nonprofits that frame, and live, their work as catalysts can show how they are fulfilling that vision by providing timely, relevant and accessible content.   And they can do this far more immediately and consistently via social media than any other communications channel.  By its very nature, social media is about connectivity, giving nonprofits a platform not only to showcase their work, but to bring people together to rally around issues they care about.

In subsequent posts, I’ll be looking at great examples of organizations that leverage social media to showcase their impact, and to strengthen their standing as, you guessed it, a catalyst. 

Apr 9

A Lost Boy of Sudan

Paul Massey

Last night, Stephanie Bluma and I had an opportunity to see an early screening of 22 Years From Home, a short documentary about one the Lost Boys of Sudan, Kuek Aleu Garang.  It’s a powerful piece: haunting images of war torn Sudan and a narrator, Kuek Aleu Garang, who shares an extraordinary story of being one of 27,000 children who fled Sudan in 1983 for refugee camps in Ethiopia, only to be driven out by rebel forces in 1991.  Fleeing Ethiopia, he walked to a refugee camp in Kenya.

The piece recounts his experience of being one of 3,800 refugees in Kenya who, with the assistance of UNHCR, were resettled in the United States during the Clinton Administration. It culminates in his return to Sudan to be reunited with his mother and father, after 22 years apart. You can view a trailer for the film at; the full film will be available on on May 1.

The event was followed by a panel discussion on the ongoing conflict in Darfur and upcoming elections in Sudan, moderated by Alex Koppelman from Taken together, the film and thoughtful discussion that followed made for a great eventIt was an example of how small-scale community events featuring powerful personal stories and discussion of complex issues can educate and inspire people on the road to advocacy. For additional resources on advocacy related to Sudan, visit

To learn more about Kuek Aleu Garang’s efforts to strengthen education opportunities in Sudan, visit

Mar 19

Crowd sourcing innovative social change

Paul Massey

Social Impact attended the SxSW Interactive Festival to listen and learn. We’re sharing insights from the experience on our blog.

The Crowd Sourcing Innovative Social Change panel, moderated by Beth Kanter, with Amy Sample Ward, Holly Ross, David Neff, and Kari Dunn Saratovsky covered a lot of material, including discussion of the definition of crowd sourcing and some creative examples of crowd sourcing from nonprofits including Open Green Map, Seattle Free School and Invisible People. Check out Marcia Stepanek’s blog post for a great recap of these examples.

The discussion I enjoyed most, however, focused on this question: Does crowd sourcing add value? In other words, do the ideas and input generated from the crowd contribute to a lasting outcome? Or is it, as some people have joked, an example of how organizations can get others to do their work for them? 

My take?

Crowd sourcing is appealing for a number of reasons – it surfaces new perspectives, invites people from nontraditional sources to contribute, and infuses real energy into the process of generating ideas and content.  It can also be empowering – creating opportunities and platforms for people to give voice to ideas and to contribute to social change efforts. It’s a way to build engagement and relationships with new audiences – to open up organizations.

Yet, above all, crowd sourcing only works when it’s used in service of the right outcomes. In other words, as several of the panelists noted, you can’t crowd source an organizational strategy.  (Amen.) 

Crowd sourcing works best if it:

  • Focuses on a well-stated challenge
  • Links to clear, well-articulated outcomes 
  • Balances input from non-experts with guidance from “experts”
  • Targets communities with particular perspectives or experience, rather than general crowds
  • Makes clear how participating will be valuable for the crowd