A Tuk Tuk Caravan for Room to Read

When in (Rome) Cambodia, one travels by tuk tuk. Tonight I participated in the welcome dinner for the first-ever Room to Read communications summit. More than a dozen of us were asked to assemble in the hotel lobby as we waited for our chariots – I mean, tuk tuks — to arrive and carry us across town. It was a site to see as we all climbed into the vehicles and one followed the other to the restaurant.
 
What was the occasion? Representatives from seven of the nine countries in which Room to Read operates arrived in Siem Reap, Cambodia, for a week of communications training. (The countries represented include Laos, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Cambodia.) For most of us, this is our first time in Cambodia, and we all have high expectations for the summit.
 
The communication summit marks an important milestone. I believe it is a recognition from the organization’s leadership that communications and marketing are a significant part of its success. By bringing the communications representatives together to share best practices and learn from the experts, we ensure that Room to Read is able to elevate its message and reach larger audiences in the months and years to come.
 
Over the course of the week we will cover message training, basic public relations guidelines, interview and writing skills, general storytelling, videography and social media, among other topics. To help bring our learnings to life, we will also visit several Room to Read sites so that we can practice everything we have learned in the field.
 
For those of you who might not know, Room to Read is Ketchum’s long-term pro bono partner. We have been a supporter of the organization for nearly three years, and over the course of our relationship, we have provided a wide range of communications support.
 
To say the organization is making a difference in the world would be an understatement. Room to Read celebrated its 10th anniversary earlier this year with the opening of its 10,000th library. In addition, the organization has supported more than 10,000 girls through long-term scholarships, has opened more than 1,000 schools, and impacted more than four million children globally. With more than 700 million illiterate people in the world, there is still much work to be done, and Room to Read aims to reach 10 million children by 2015.
 
A lofty goal? Perhaps. But based on my experience with Room to Read I have every confidence we’ll achieve this and more.

Julie Ferriot serves as the global director of Ketchum Social Responsibility (KSR), overseeing the agency’s corporate social responsibility initiatives, including the management of Ketchum’s pro bono partner Room to Read. In this role, she drives global engagement in volunteer and sustainability programs across Ketchum offices and affiliates. Since joining the agency in 2005 Julie has also served as Vice President in the Corporate practice. Julie is based in San Francisco.