We are in dark times in Europe. Decades of peace have now been disturbed by a ruthless aggressor – whose name I do not even want to mention, so little regard I have for this person. I find it difficult to write a business as usual newsletter today given the challenges we face now as global citizens and in particular when thinking of the pain, fear, and terror that our friends in Ukraine have to endure. All business issues, the hypes, and topics I usually report about seem so mundane and trivial in contrast to the fundamental crisis that the seismic shift in geopolitics and global security has brought upon us. So, please, excuse me right away if this newsletter is a bit different.
It is in dark times like this, that we in media can shine
It is in dark times like this, that we in media can shine and bring lights of hope to people. It is media that can excel by being honest, be being relevant, and staying alongside our audience when it needs us. Media is able to make an impact – media can do good.
That is the great hope that I see in these times: we witness an almost unilateral front across many media outlets – on TV, Radio, Print, Online, Technology, etc – in not only condemning this war and the aggressor. More though, many media businesses choose to do more than just offer the usual ‘thoughts and prayers’: they finally took action for a good cause. Definite and defining actions indeed.
I am proud to be part of an industry that this time had the guts to choose morale over profits. I absolutely endorse that lots of media companies stopped their business activities in Russia. We congratulate companies like #Netflix, #Discovery, #Disney, #Warner, and many more on this courage and acumen. It is my personal belief, too, that we need to put pressure on Russia as a society and let them feel the consequences of having such an aggressor as President. It might hurt a lot of innocent individuals – but so does a war; and that with even more pain and consequences.
This is not only about a regional war, it is about how we want to be as media
This war is not about Ukraine alone, it is about our very way of life and about the values that support media and let it thrive: independence, freedom of press, democracy, excellent journalism and reporting, supporting a community. These are the pillars of making good media. We shall defend them and fight any attempt to undermine or destroy them.
We as Global Media Consult have taken this stance right away and put all relationships and contacts in Russia on a halt. We went a step further and terminated all client relationships with those companies that remain in Russia with a ‘business as usual’ attitude. There were some tough decisions and painful conversations as a result. I was personally attacked by some people – with words that I do not want to repeat here. But it felt and feels good to do the right thing.
Some of our contacts rightly pointed out that such kind of sanction and industry response should have come earlier on other occasions. What about taking a stance when it comes to the climate crisis, global inequality, racism, other regional conflicts, etc? I see that point and can only be ashamed that we – especially as ‘Western / Northern Hemisphere’ – have not reacted early. I wished that we more often had addressed these issues and indeed show that media can and must have an impact. The only comfort I have is that we are doing it now.
We are seeing the dawn of value-based, ethical media businesses
We are seeing the dawn of value-based, ethical media businesses. Businesses, companies, people that want to make an impact – an impact for doing good in this world and to enhance people’s lives. Millenials – the big consumer force – have demanded such action and activism for some time from both their employers and the businesses they buy from. They want us to consider each action in regard to how it impacts the people involved, the society, and the environment.
As media, we have a special responsibility to consider our impact. Media has always impact- whether we want it, whether we recognize it or whether we plan it. Media is always about communication and, hence, very human, very political, very impactful. Media is best when it informs, educates, and entertains. That is what we in media can do in regard to the various challenges that our society faces. We must address how we can deal better with geopolitical conflicts, how we fight racism, how we overcome inequality and discrimination, how we as people come closer together across borders, religions, and systems. Yes, I remain an idealist and optimist: even in these dark hours, I want to believe that we can achieve world peace one day.
I encourage us all in the media industry to look for opportunities to make a positive impact
I encourage us all in the media industry to look for opportunities to make positive impacts in our own organization, our community, our society, and our world. Look for ideas on how you can increase reporting on climate change, social justice, equality, democracy. Remember to be creative and combine educative elements with great entertainment. People will like it and endorse you. A great example is how Netflix weaves in many of these issues in its storytelling across many genres.
You need to critically review your policies, your leadership style, the company values and your strategy. How, for example, are you dealing with issues of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equality? Do you have this entrenched in the genes of your company or is it just for the shop window? See the backlash that Disney had last week when people realized their bigot stance on LGBTQ+ rights. Not only outside pressure made them change their policy – but most importantly massive pressure from their own employees. People do want to be part of a good cause: they do not like to compromise their values for job security or career opportunities. They want to belong.
I know we ask a lot: however, it is exactly now the time to ask these questions and find answers. You must make an impact as media – otherwise, you will lose credibility with your own staff and your audiences.
Fortunately, we can help you. We have access to relevant content that makes an impact. We even might have investment opportunities to participate in ‘good media ventures’. We can work with you on your strategy and policies. We can help you to launch dedicated channels and outlets that help to foster your cause and make the world better.