Maybe we’re all genetically predisposed to be attracted to negativity. Or maybe negativity is something we breed in and unto our families, our culture and ourselves.
It’s a classic “chicken or the egg” scenario. Did our thirst for blood fuel the 24-hour news cycle and TMZ culture? Or is it the other way around? Regardless, I’m not surprised that the media has been pumping out non-stop content about recent stories involving the federal government’s invasion of our privacy, interracial killings and murderous mothers.
Of course they will continue throwing more wood on the fire - because it’s all about the Benjamins.
I’m gonna give it to you straight: Advertising equals money. Money fuels content. When the interest in the content is low, so are the eyes on the advertising. When the interest in the content is high, advertising is at a premium. Therefore, news channels and related media have to proactively manufacture scenarios that will generate attention. Without this attention, viewership declines.
Now I'm not going to stand here on a soapbox and tell you my viewpoints regarding the most blatant, manufactured "race war" (Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman court case) created by the media in my lifetime.
OK. I guess I did sort of just tell you my viewpoints. But I won’t elaborate.
Sadly, however, I fear the media is getting better at what they do. Because every manufactured media blitz that goes on in this country numbs us to the reality of the situation. Each time it happens, we get a little dose of anesthetic so it affects us even less the next time. Therefore, the media takes a "make hay while the sun shines" approach. They know that when the same thing happens again, they won't get the same viewership and advertising share.
"Okay Justice, thank you for your media manifesto. Can you tell me how this applies to me as a marketing professional?"
This is a great question, in that it has a multifaceted set of answers. Let me start by saying I'm not advocating or dispelling any technique that you use in your marketing directives. However, you have a choice when these galvanizing news events come along. You can choose to engage or not. You can go positive or negative.
Here are a few options for your content and it's possible affects on your brand:
If you want to join the crowd, you are welcome to feed the devil machine by constructing content around a topic the media is already fueling. This is a low-hanging fruit tactic and often very effective. But bear in mind that you will receive the backlash of any negative fallout that comes from this decision.
Duck & Cover:
Probably the simplest thing to do is maintain your current course of action from a marketing standpoint and avoid any connection to negative or controversial content.
One thing that you can do is lean into topical waters with an overt and extreme sense of balance to both sides of a topic. Do this with a great sense of caution and diplomacy.
One the last things you can do is parallel a topic. Mimic it, if you will. Say for instance you want to create engagement by piggybacking the recent government security discussions. You could start engagement around backup and recovery. Or even more directly, speak to the effects of identity theft. This allows you to glom some market share from a topical subject, but not take on the negative associations. This too is like a Switzerland topic. Do it with a great sense of caution, as your community can easily pull it back into a negative context if not properly monitored.
So now you know the sad truth is that misery loves more than company: It loves propagation with the help of news sites that bend viewpoints to ride "free speech" and force an agenda.
Do you think societally we could be happy with “good news” 24/7? It would be lovely and refreshing. It also might kill most advertising in an instant if we lived in a culture where we’re not in constant fear or loathing of SOMETHING. Therefore, it's not going to happen.
The ultimate salvation might be to put a bullet in every media device you own and then reboot your soul from a cabin in the woods. Also not likely to happen. But sometimes it is tempting.