brand story & messaging, case studies

Storytelling, PR raise profile of RSF Social Finance

Thinkshift | June 3, 2015

Photo: DC Central Kitchen/RSF Social Finance

RSF Social Finance—a pioneering funder of social enterprises and creator of innovative impact investing and grant programs—came to Thinkshift seeking a higher profile and stronger storytelling. The organization wanted to reach a broader audience of potential investors and donors, demonstrate its impact in the social finance field and tell stories more effectively.

“We’ve seen a lot of value in our relationship with Thinkshift,” says Melinda Cheel, RSF’s senior manager, marketing and communications. “Without a doubt we’ve had clearer messaging than ever previously. And we’ve definitely seen an uptick in coverage—everything that happened before was inconsistent and there was no one building relationships with journalists.”


  • More media coverage
  • Savvy spokespeople
  • Messaging that connects

John Bloom, vice president of organizational culture, adds that the program’s focus on the entrepreneur’s perspective and how RSF’s relationship with borrowers benefits the world has been especially meaningful. “The clarity around defining impact from the perspective of both the track record and the human story was a really important shift,” he says, “and it has informed our language around social impact assessments.”


  • Thinkshift created the “Building the Next Economy” campaign with PR, messaging and client stories featuring RSF borrowers.
  • We developed a launch platform on social media and used the stories as the basis for a public relations program that has evolved into an ongoing thought leadership strategy.
  • To support PR, we provided media training for RSF leaders, storytelling training for the communications team, messaging support documents and consulting on new themes and outreach strategies.


  • 24 placements in relevant media (interviews and bylined articles) over a period of about two years, with direct results that include a significant investment, a high-profile speaking engagement and an important partnership opportunity.
  • Campaign messaging and stories illustrating RSF’s leadership and impact attracted media interest.
  • RSF spokespeople are more effective when speaking to media.
  • Staff members are able to conduct client interviews and write stories that yield deeper, more useful insights and comments.

Without a doubt we’ve had clearer messaging than ever previously. And we’ve definitely seen an uptick in media coverage.”  —Melinda Cheel, RSF Social Finance


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