Author - Lecturer - Strategic Communications Adviser

Quick. What You Do Now Matters.

By Jennifer R. Farmer

For years, the media has been in a free fall. We’ve seen newsrooms consolidate departments and functions, shed positions, and cease operations. This trend has continued through 2022, as CNN recently announced layoffs impacting 400 of its 4,400 workforces. Gannett, which owns hundreds of local papers in communities across the country, announced its third round of layoffs. NPR also announced cuts. The Washington Post is ending its Sunday magazine, and The New York Times is embroiled in labor negotiations. Those recent announcements follow the closure of the Black News Channel and reductions at BuzzFeed News in 2021 and years of media layoffs.

For people who wake up thinking about how to promote worthy causes, what you do now matters. To garner media attention in today’s climate, I recommend leaders and entities committed to social good take these steps:

  1. Build local media platforms. As mainstream media outlets have sought to diversify their teams and promised more opportunities for communities of color, many Black journalists have left Black-owned or Black-targeted outlets. But without intentional work to build and support Black outlets, local outlets and Indigenous outlets, our communities lose information and power. We also drain our institutions of much needed knowledge. When mainstream media outlets announce cuts, our people are often disproportionately impacted. This impacts us as well as our community, according to Race Forward’s Executive Vice President Eric Ward: “The real danger is that a growing number of African Americans have no place to try to understand what is happening in the world, what is happening in the country, and what it means for their communities and for their lives.”
  2. Create Your Own Content Channels. Nonprofits and advocacy organizations that want coverage will need to build their own content channels. Creating one’s own content channels enables one to immediately deliver a message. It also ensures control over the message and the probability of it being seen by one’s intended audience. Further, creating one’s own content channels makes reporting as easy as possible for journalists when they ultimately find an entity. Whether it is the company website; podcasts; blogs; or short videos on Facebook, Vimeo, TikTok, etc., we must take control of our message and the speed at which it is disseminated by creating our own content channels.
  3. Become Investor Consumers. Most smaller media outlets are not awash in cash; not all have angel investors and corporate sponsors. This many in a perpetual scramble for revenue. Advocacy organizations must be committed to supported media outlets that report the news, do so with a racial equity lens, and are committed to truth-telling. Organizations with financial means should donate regularly and consistently to people of color-owned and/or smaller media outlets. Donating should be a regular line item in an organization’s strategic communications budget.
  4. Consume the News Conscientiously. Communities of color and persons who favor an inclusive democracy should watch platforms owned by people of color and advertise as much as possible. This demonstrates for advertisers that there is demand for these platforms. Viewership is directly tied to advertising dollars and when outlets can prove they have the viewers, they are able to secure more revenue from advertising. It is incumbent upon people who want to advance racial, climate, gender, and social justice to be conscientious news consumers. This is the only way to ensure that the media outlets that deliver unvarnished truth remain in existence as long as possible.
  5. Be Ready to Pounce. As much as we like to plan, there are some things we can never anticipate. That is why rapid-response communications is important. Rapid response is quick mobilization of communications resources to respond to a crisis, or unforeseen opportunity or challenge. When the unexpected happens and you have deep knowledge or insights in the issue, be ready to pounce. Immediately craft or have someone in your team craft a story or pitch speaking to the issue at hand. Go live on your social media platform of choice and share your perspective. Monitor media trends and the news cycle carefully. And when you see an opportunity, pounce.

Trust me, I know how hard garnering media attention has become. But that doesn’t mean we can throw in the towel. Times are changing, and we must change as well. We must be smart, intentional and persistent in order to elevate important causes.



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  • By Jennifer Farmer Blog
  • December 3, 2022