Laura Flanders best-selling author and host of NPR’s “The Laura Flanders Show”, led a discussion with 40 socially responsible business leaders, media outlets and media buyers at Social Venture Network’s Fall conference last week in Philadelphia. The session was co-facilitated by Andy Shallal, entrepreneur and Founder of Busboys and Poets, who’s created a unique, multi-media platform through his restaurants, and Carol Atwood, Principal at Spartacus Capital.
Challenges posed to the group were how media, business and investors can work more closely together, and how media can better report on the sustainable business world to help invigorate positive change in business and society. Big take-aways:
1) The right advertisers with the right media can be a big win for all: Media purchasers make their decisions by the numbers: which outlets can provide the most impressions per ad dollar. Independent media, by definition not owned by a big media outlet and by nature generally smaller and more focused, is disadvantaged. How can independent media deliver? One answer is the Media Consortium, a membership organization of several independent media outlets. Together, they can provide the heft necessary for independent outlets to compete with the metrics of mainstream media.
2) The whole IS greater than the sum of its parts: With organizations reliant on media to tell their story, and media reliant on big advertisers to fund that effort, will the stories of the socially responsible business ever get told? Such businesses that have “made it” big enough to afford advertising on mainstream outlets generally don’t advertise, they have such a loyal following. And let’s face it: advertising is too expensive for most socially responsible businesses. One answer: Social Venture Network! In the same way that the Media Consortium can deliver a big-outlet’s worth of eyeballs to advertisers, SVN can potentially be the vehicle that delivers advertisers – on behalf of all member companies – to the big outlets.
3) People don’t give up culture unless there’s someplace else to go: Culture plays an important role, and we need to provide a viable alternative. Conservative media makes statements as if they are fact, thereby capturing culture. Fox News figured out early that they could not change the government, but they could change the culture. The socially responsible business community uses terms like ‘common good’, for example, but this vague statement means different things to different people. We need to create a cultural shift through consistent messaging and media if we’re going to have an impact.
4) Get the message across via professional media training: Many socially responsible business leaders find themselves in a position to be interviewed for media, but don’t know how to craft their message. SVN and Laura Flanders are considering offering media training to member companies so that messages get out to the public in the way intended.
The conversation about the new economy that we all are trying to build needs to convey the urgency, both ecological and social, that goes beyond politics and indeed permeates our culture and forces a shift.
2011 Social Venture Network Fall Conference Call-to-Action Roundtable: Change the World, Change the Media: Find out how independent media can help you reach your goals
Written by Erin Roach Director of Marketing and Recruitment Social Venture Network
Photos courtesy of Nancy Jo