By Anna Redmond, CEO and co-founder
When my cofounder Kate and I started Hippo in 2013, it was with the singular mission of bringing smart, academic-minded content to private industry. To finally open the proverbial floodgates of the content writing industry to beautiful prose and truly thought-provoking, world-changing, disruptive ideas.
In our industry, bad writing is easy to find. Content writing mills are rife with it. Poor research and worse—inaccurate information—has become the new standard. We decided to turn all of this on its head by hiring journalists and academic writers—analytical thinkers who could handle deep research and would never shy from the truth. Adhering to being truth-tellers and setting a new gold standard in content writing has enabled us to develop stories with our clients that have placed in gatekeepers for the truth—publications with high journalistic and academic standards such as The Guardian and Scientific American.
Spreading misinformation causes deep harm
Think none of this matters? Think again. Countless studies have shown that people can be heavily influenced by inaccurate information. In 2016, a study at Northwestern University demonstrated that false statements such as “vaccinations cause autism” are “downloaded” into memory before people have the opportunity to analyze what they’ve heard or read.
It’s simply easier than thinking critically or questioning the veracity of a statement. And later, these false statements are easily retrieved—and shared—continuing the cycle of misinformation.
This cycle of misinformation hurts people. The most pernicious false statements even kill people. For example, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine predicts that rising global temperatures could lead to over 529,000 adult deaths by 2050. Yet anti-science misinformation about climate change is preventing effective policies to be written that will curb further rapid climate change. Unfortunately, we could just as easily find examples of misinformation within a myriad of topics ranging from gun violence to vaccinations to immigration.
We support evidence-based universal truths
To stop misinformation in its tracks, Kate and I realized it wasn’t enough to simply write the truth. We also needed to explicitly let our clients and prospective clients know that we side with science and deep learning. This meant drawing a line in the sand noting where we stand on universal human truths—on ideas that transcend industry borders. It’s where our discussion about publishing a values statement began.
What are some of these universal truths? First and foremost, it’s important to define what isn’t a universal truth—namely an idea or stance that goes against overwhelming scientific consensus, such as climate change denial or a medical claim not backed with peer reviewed research.
This leads to truthful ideas and stances that are backed by scientific knowledge. Strong scientific evidence shows, for example, that when people of different races, genders, sexualities, nationalities and economic backgrounds all have equal opportunity to succeed, entire communities flourish. And overwhelming evidence shows that a lack of strict gun laws leads to deaths and that xenophobic and racist immigration policies hurt families.
By naming these things, we align ourselves with companies that work for good, and we refuse to work with institutions such as the private prison industry, which disproportionately incarcerates Black Americans, or companies that try to strip girls and women of their fundamental reproductive rights.
We've built our company culture around these truths
The UN's Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights state the following: "As the basis for embedding their responsibility to respect human rights, business enterprises should express their commitment to meet this responsibility through a statement of policy."
For Kate and I, we take this one step further. In other words, built within our company culture, our values statement isn’t jargon for “sharing what we believe.” We are data-driven researchers: therefore, our values statement isn’t just a collection of our own ideals, but rather is a core collection of evidence-based universal truths that are proven will make the world a better place. It’s the beating heart of our company—the soul of our entire team. It’s also a promise: To do no harm, conduct ourselves truthfully and help our clients become thought leaders who can make a positive impact in their industries.
We invite you to read our Values Statement and then join us in creating content writing that moves the needle towards a kinder, gentler, honest world.
Our experienced editorial team helps thought leaders stand up for what they believe in. Get in touch to find out more.
Photo by AJ Colores on Unsplash.