In the media planning and buying industry, the obvious purpose of our ad campaigns is to support our clients’ marketing goals. But let’s look beyond that. What happens when we choose to advertise in certain publications? What sort of work do our planned ad dollars support?
In September, Mashable held its annual Social Good Summit in New York City. The two-day conference was aimed at understanding the role of tech and new media in socially ‘good’ initiatives around the world. Celebrities, activists and politicians gathered to discuss a variety of ideas and solutions geared towards tackling today’s toughest problems. One of these panels was entitled: “Media: What Sells, What Solves?”
The purpose of this discussion was to explain the responsibility of the media in reporting issues that the public needs to hear about, while simultaneously creating a product that can be a salesman for the advertiser and to help sell the publication itself.
President and CEO of New York Public Radio Laura Walker spoke about the unique power of storytelling via podcast and presented a real-world example of this idea. In response to the U.S. presidential election, NY Public Radio has created The United States of Anxiety podcast, aimed at providing listeners with digestible information on how we’ve gotten to this point and what it means for America’s future. This was an excellent example of creating media that solves (because it breaks down current events), as well as sells (because listeners are interested).
A recurring theme throughout the panel was “solutions journalism.” Solutions journalism is a type of reporting that covers the social response to problems, and what’s effective or ineffective about the response. Solutions Journalism Network co-founder Tina Rosenburg covered this topic extensively.
“This isn’t fluff. It’s rigorous reporting. It’s not celebrating things, it’s covering them and also talking about what’s not working about them. We consider this plain old journalism,” said Rosenburg.
CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation Monique Villa talked about the importance of the work that journalists create.
During the discussion, Villa stated, “We [Thomson Reuters Foundation] cover slavery and human trafficking. Five years ago, nobody was speaking about it; now they do.”
The good news, and biggest takeaway from the panel, is that many media outlets are challenging themselves more and more to create dialogue and not diatribe.
While advertisers may not directly influence what and how stories are covered, their ad dollars support an intricate network that provides vital information to a growing population of globally minded citizens. In a way, advertisers are helping to transform the way that information flows around the world, whether they are aware of it or not.
Here are a few takeaways from the Mashable Social Good Conference:
- Advertisers and their agencies should be aware of the media outlets where this socially responsible work is happening. They should know how their ad dollars are helping to further social initiatives.
- Corporate social responsibility is an increasingly important decision maker for Millenials when choosing to support a brand. This generation is coming into its own as young professionals and has matured to the point where millennials are in marketing positons that direct millions of dollars in ad revenue. It is these millennials who are most interested in the CSR strategy of their employers and business partners.
- Media outlets realize the buying power of millennials in the ad industry and are appealing to this generation’s sense of social responsibility. For example, when media is placed through CBS EcoMedia, a portion of the ad spend can be directed to a non-profit or charity of the advertiser’s choosing.
To watch the entire Social Good Summit panel, click here.