RALLY Turns 5
This month marks RALLY’s fifth anniversary of supporting and advancing initiatives that are making the world a better place. To celebrate, President and Founder Felix Schein sat down to do a quick survey of RALLY at 5. He reflects on five years of big wins on issues spanning climate leadership, education equity and an end to workplace discrimination. Read more about why he’s so proud of the organization that has remained “humble but hungry” even through times of tremendous growth and achievement.
What is RALLY’s origin story?
The road to RALLY zigged and zagged, with various folks contributing to its founding and success. But at its core, we started RALLY with three things in mind: (1) We wanted to wake up every day and exclusively do the work we really care about. That meant choosing not to work for oil, tobacco, firearm, defense, anti-choice, and other non-progressive interests — no matter what. (2) We wanted to prove that advocacy and business can go together and that the choice between doing good and doing well is a false choice. And (3) we wanted to build a team that was the envy of the profession. Five years in, I think we’ve done well on all three fronts and I am super proud of that and immensely grateful to everyone who has contributed to it.
In a word, how would you describe RALLY at 5?
How has the company grown in the last five years?
In every way imaginable — from attracting more and better talent, to opening new offices in San Francisco and Seattle, to building out best-in-class services ranging from digital to design to event management. All of that has given us the opportunity to be part of some big stuff, including the movement for marriage equality, environmental justice initiatives, #TimesUp, and more.
What was the purpose or intention behind you founding RALLY? Has it changed at all in the last five years?
I dreamt of some of the things I am getting to do now, and that’s a wonderful feeling. In the beginning, I just wanted to work on issues I care about with people I care about. And while that sounds basic, that it’s come true still blows my mind. And none of it would have happened without clients being willing to take a leap of faith and team members willing to risk working for a start-up. And no, I am not so sure it’s changed so much. The ambition is still the same even if we’re a bigger, more established outfit.
If RALLY had a mission statement, what would it be?
We have struggled with this. I have never liked the term “social change” because I think it’s been stripped of all meaning, but I do think that’s the space we’re in. Maybe it’s sufficient to say that RALLY, and by that I mean our people, aim to leave the world in a better place than we found it. I think we’ve acted on that mission every day for five years now.
Why “RALLY” — how did you come up with the name?
The name perfectly reflects what we do. We RALLY for the causes we care about and we want to RALLY others to them.
You used to be a journalist. Why did you step into the world of PR and communications?
Journalism gave me an amazing view of national and global events — from presidential campaigns to the fallout from 9/11. But it didn’t leave room to be an advocate and I needed to scratch that itch. Pretending to be indifferent to outcomes and results is not something I am good at.
How has journalism changed since then?
The march toward opinion “journalism,” the pressures of the digital age, and audience fragmentation were all already afoot when I hung up my pencil. What’s changed is how far they have marched — and how the struggle between fact and fiction has advanced. The latter feels fairly existential and it my sincere hope that real journalists will find a way to prevail.
What is the greatest misconception about political communications?
In keeping with the moment, that only the Russians are spreading fake news. This is a field where most standards, including any having to do with honesty and respect, have all but disappeared and we are worse for it. It’s worth noting that the cable and many digital outlets are culpable in letting this happen.
It’s hard to find reasons to be hopeful for the future of our democracy in the Age of Trump. Are there any silver linings you’re seeing through RALLY’s work?
Absolutely. We get to work every day with local advocates, local community groups and tireless advocates who don’t accept the status quo — and that fuels our work. Most revolutions don’t start at the top and most change doesn’t come from Washington. If Millenials are any reflection of what’s ahead, I think we’ll be just fine — and I mean that seriously. They care about and are advancing a progressive agenda.
Word on the street is RALLY might be best known for its kickball team. Can you share a little bit about the team and its athletic prowess?
We are also known for our outrageous good looks and singing prowess. :)
Press fast forward: What do you hope RALLY at 10 will look like?
In some respects, much like it does today. I hope we remain humble but hungry. I hope doing good work continues to fuel new work. And I hope those who work here — or have worked here — continue to spread their wings and bring their amazing talents to bear on the challenges of the day. If we can be all that at year 10, I would consider this experiment a success — just as I do today at year 5.
What is your greatest hope for RALLY, its people, its culture, and its impact on the world?
Every generation has had its moment when the world feels like it’s upside down. It is my hope that RALLY can play a small part in putting our country back on a better path and help us move past what is a tough moment in history. It’s important for us to remember the trends: we live in an era that could see the end of poverty, the scaling of renewable energy, ridiculous advancements in science and medicine, and meaningful progress with respect to equity and equality. But we have to want those things more than the forces that stand in the way. I know RALLY and it’s people do, and that excites me to my core.
Interested in working at RALLY? Want more information about our company and our people? Visit us at www.wearerally.com.