As we know, encouraging people to lead more sustainable lifestyles and pressuring governments and businesses to think green requires messaging and communication. In order to drive change, we must educate people about the problems we are facing and their scale.
We do this by putting research and statistics into easy-to-understand language and sharing people’s experiences and stories to show their true impact. Szilvia Szabo, Editor in Chief at Business Spirit Platform and Profit With Purpose Magazine knows too well the power of communication in driving change and putting sustainability on the agenda.
From being a brief thought in her mind to 4 issues later, Szilvia has featured numerous entrepreneurs who are #makingwaves. These individuals and businesses are value-driven and have sustainability and innovation in their DNA. We caught up with Szilvia to talk about the power of communication in making change happen.
Before we get into exactly how Szilvia’s magazine is empowering innovators and entrepreneurs to create a sustainable and just economy, it seemed only right to go back to where it all began.
When asked about when she began her journey, Szilvia says: “Technically, all of this began 5 years ago when we organised our first international conference, the Responsible Innovation Summit. The summit brought together researchers, business leaders and policymakers to explore further what responsible innovation is about.”
“In a nutshell, it is about being mindful of the output of your innovation and considering these outputs in the process of making innovation happen. While it may sound like a simple thing to do, when you think about ethics and technology, it’s not always that straightforward. After witnessing the power of bringing people together and the language they used to communicate these concerns in an easy-to-digest manner, we knew we had to start our online platform. Many of the attendees of the summit were already collaborating, sharing ideas and connecting with one another and we hoped to continue encouraging that and these conversations.”
“The platform was all about publishing news and open calls as well as finding the language that would attract attention from different audiences while still working towards the same goals. This was really the breakthrough moment for me to start something online and the print magazine was essentially the cherry on top.”
With everything being online nowadays, many may question why Szilvia decided to follow her online platform with a physical, print magazine. However, it was all in the timing. The conversations around launching a magazine collided with the COVID-19 era and during this time, most employees were working from home. This meant they were spending more time than usual looking at screens. Szilvia saw an opportunity here, to give people something physical to hold in their hands and read while drinking a coffee, that wouldn’t add to their current screen time.
“We wanted to create something you can touch and feel, and have your little bit of me-time with a cup of coffee or even a glass of wine if you are feeling that way inclined! We also believe in the power of reading and felt physical magazines enhance the reading experience and readers better absorb the content. The magazine came about as a means to get people focused and really think about what they are reading.”
Each magazine is seasonal and focuses on one central topic, for example, carbon, building back better from COVID-19, linking sustainable development to the business sector and making change happen. The magazine is A5 and is produced with every care to ensure it is environmentally sound from start to finish, including the use of Carbon Balanced paper for printing.
Profit With Purpose also collaborates with Vita Ireland, the non-profit organisation that manages carbon offsetting to ensure the magazine is carbon-negative while also supporting women in Africa. The magazine comes out twice per year and they are treated as small books in that they feature engaging design and easy-to-digest, time-proofed content.
With every venture, be it personal or professional, there are ups and downs. There are moments where we wonder if we should give up and then times where it becomes crystal clear why we chose this path and how necessary it is for us to do this.
Speaking on these, Szilvia says: “When I started the magazine, I wasn’t alone which definitely helped and this was due to having done the conference which provided me with a network of people who wanted to change the world for the better. I also spoke to a number of people asking if they would be interested in something like this and whether they felt it would work. Our selling point with the magazine was really that we deliver the information in an easy-to-digest way without overusing jargon.”
“When thinking about how to make this idea of mine into a reality, one of my greatest supporters was and still is Dublin City Council. Everything began from this conversation with them about how we can discuss innovation with business leaders in a way that would attract them and inspire change. We worked directly with the Economic Development Department who are all very driven at achieving our exact goal. The first issue acted as an experiment and we took all the feedback into account and made important changes. We received funding from the department to make the magazine work too and this gave me the opportunity to come as far as we are now and build up the brand, content and audience.”
When it comes to low points in the journey, Szilvia says it does come back to the launch in the middle of COVID-19 and after the release of the fourth issue, still being in the COVID realm. She says: “I never had the experience of getting to go to an event and handing the magazine over to someone. I’m really hoping this year, I will be able to experience this.
Besides missing this experience, I am delighted the magazine has found its way across the world; we have supporters in every country. We opened up our online shop last year and we are getting orders too which is great. Another downside though is that we do have limited funding and this makes the magazine a very careful step by step strategy. But, hopefully, as things open back up, it gets a bit easier.”
“In relation to the feedback we received when we released the first issue, people really requested to make the content easy to read. When you are working in the sustainability space, you want everything in order and perfectly described and almost technical so you can rest knowing you are not sending out incorrect information.
After all, it is a serious matter and we have to remember this is about the people. Unless you have people who get involved and engaged, none of this really matters. This is still a learning point for me, the content has to have a face and story and something you can put into action.
This is a big thing for businesses avoiding sustainability as they worry they will make mistakes or not do it perfectly and be attacked as the bad guys even if they try. We need to give business owners a reason to put sustainability on the list since they are so busy and if it is not easy enough, it won’t happen. Given this, with the magazine, we aim to strike a balance between people who have this at their core and others who shifted and transitioned.”
“I also experienced moments of self-doubt, could I actually do this, am I capable? But when you do see the feedback and people posting about it, you realise you are doing something that is worth the effort. Being alone all the time, despite being on calls, you don’t get the personal touch and to connect appropriately with others. Like any business owner, I experience burnout too but I am very lucky to have my wonderful daughter who helps me gain back my sanity and get to leave the desk and go for walks and of course, have to attend to her whenever she needs me. With burnout too, you need to know yourself well to get over it.”
When speaking about her goals with her business for 2022, Szilvia says: “We have a feature we have been working on since last year and it is a search platform within Business Spirit Platform where you can very easily find information that is relevant for you. It is essentially a search engine built in to help you find partners and how to get involved with the impact space which acts as a shortcut. It isn’t that easy to find relevant information so it’ll be interesting to see how this can benefit innovators. Plus, Google is often biased due to SEO and keywords and generally won’t help you to find local solutions.”
The Planet Calls is delighted to have Szilvia’s two businesses in its partnership network and we’re huge fans of her magazine. We are also in awe of her success and very proud of her for taking such bold steps to empower others in their sustainability journeys while leading the way for powerful change.