CSI Tenant Profile: Brianna McKinney, Bloom Communications

For this week’s CSI Tenant Profile, we spoke with Brianna McKinney of Bloom Communications, an integrated communications agency bridging the gap between the marketing, market research, and public relations disciplines.

The CSI Tenant Profile series spotlights socially responsible organizations that will call the Center for Social Innovation at Springdale General home. Each month we profile new tenants and how their organization is doing good in the community, best practices on engaging in social impact, and important impact areas in Austin.

1)     Why did you choose the CSI as your organization's new home?

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We were excited to learn about CSI, an integrated campus for socially innovative nonprofits and purpose-for-profit enterprises – the concept fit perfectly with our company’s social enterprise model and was an opportunity for our growing team to move into a larger space. Bloom Communications works exclusively with nonprofits and companies with dedicated corporate social responsibility initiatives. This year we’ve grown to a team of ten with offices in Austin and Portland and we’re also working on our B-Corp application. The great care that CSI has taken to follow LEED certification best practices will help us demonstrate our commitment to the application’s prerequisites for environmental sustainability. We can’t wait to be situated in a complex designed for purposeful connectivity and synergy. Because we invest a significant percentage of our services pro bono for each of our nonprofit clients, much like those clients we also must operate with cost-effective strategies in mind. With commercial real estate rates in Austin soaring, CSI’s focus on affordable design is allowing us to move into a larger space without breaking the bank.

2)     How will the unique and diverse community of CSI and Springdale General benefit your organization?

Being co-located among nonprofit organizations and aspiring social entrepreneurs, we’ll be in an environment where we can deepen relationships and continue to keep a pulse on the shared challenges and triumphs of like-minded organizations. We’re excited to be good neighbors and look forward to continuously crossing paths and catching up at CSI.  

3)     Your organization is focused on a particular community. Can you share how you’ve been successful in gearing your efforts towards that community?

Bloom’s growth and success have largely depended on our ability to constantly identify and evaluate shifting trends within the industries we serve, primarily including nonprofits and health and wellness brands and organizations. Understanding what those trends mean for the agency, our employees, clients, and our communities has enabled us to be nimble, adjust as necessary, and remain strategic for the organizations we serve.

4)     Can you share how your organization has been pursuing innovation and some of the challenges for an organization of your size and scale?

It may seem simple, but a central part of innovation for us is preserving and owning an articulated core focus. While the prospect of accelerated growth and expanding our areas of focus may sound attractive, we want to avoid getting distracted by the wrong kind of work - work that isn’t in line with our mission. It’s a common challenge for companies of our size navigating opportunities for growth. We know that straying from a core competency can dilute your unique value proposition and further, dilute your brand’s value. We’re committed to managed growth as growing too quickly can also mean sacrificing quality.

5)     What is your number one piece of advice to other nonprofit leaders?

For nonprofit leaders, I’d say follow and study the rapidly growing importance of storytelling as it relates to fundraising goals. This remains at the heart of our strategic communications planning and execution. Because relationships with partners are part of the organization’s brand identity, nonprofits should also be selective about the for-profit partners with whom they choose to work. Given the groundswell of attention to CSR initiatives we’ve witnessed in recent years, it’s important to prioritize working with with companies and organizations that share and demonstrate values aligned with those of your organization.

6)     What is your approach to achieving the most impact and scale?

In terms of impact, I’m proud of our staff’s commitment to giving back as a team through our dedicated team volunteer half days. As an agency, we make a 30 percent pro bono investment in every nonprofit client, making strategic communications services more attainable to organizations with historically smaller and more precious budgets. This enables nonprofits to better deliver to their constituents and further their missions, while all involved maintain, “skin in the game,” fueling a shared commitment and focus. This January (2019) we will celebrate our seventh anniversary and we look forward to continued growth here in Austin, Portland, and beyond.

Brianna is the founder and president of Bloom Communications, an integrated communications agency bridging the gap between the marketing, market research, and public relations disciplines. Since 2012, Bloom has provided strategic consulting services exclusively to organizations making an impact in their communities. With specialization in nonprofit and healthcare, Bloom represents clients in a variety of industries from its offices in Austin, Texas and Portland, Oregon.