Influence Across America

Thanks to the generosity of my friend and colleague Ed Barks, I had the opportunity to attend Influence Across America: The Rise of State and Local Power and the Impact of Digital Media, a National Digital Roundtable panel event at the Newseum earlier this week.

Panelists shared some interesting and disturbing statistics, as well as good advice for breaking through the noise and getting local and national media attention for your organization’s signal.

First the stats (all from Pew):

  • 2019 will be the first year digital ad spending outpaces ad spending in traditional media.
  • Facebook and YouTube are still the top social platforms overall, but among 18-24 year olds, it’s Snapchat and Instagram.
  • Facebook and Google VASTLY dominate digital ad spending. Nothing else is even close.
  • Lots of people of all ages get their news partially or mostly online, but the demographic generation with the biggest growth is Boomers.
  • 71% of people think their local newspaper is doing fine financially. Only 14% of people pay for local news. (You would think that would cause at least some of them some cognitive dissonance, but apparently not. People: NEWS IS NOT FREE.)

Where do people prefer to get their news?

  • 41% – TV
  • 37% – online
  • 13% – newspaper
  • 8% – radio

(It’s official – my NPR-listening, print Washington Post-subscribing self is a big weirdo.)

Now for the advice:

The Kellogg Foundation produces an event called the National Day of Racial Healing, which takes place in January each year, in conjunction with the Martin Luther King holiday. They saw the highest social/online engagement from cities where they also had the most in-person events. Lesson? In-person events and social/digital campaigns reinforce each other. They were also to recruit a big-name influencer – Ava DuVernay – to support and amplify the campaign, because this is part of the work she does on a daily basis. Lesson? You can attract celebrity help if you choose wisely.

Zero To Three (a Spark client!) used the See-Say-Do model to organize their efforts and set goals.

  • See = impressions, reach, awareness
  • Say = engagement, likes, shares, influencer attention
  • Do = call to action (for them, it was to join their public policy alert network)

The Elizabeth Dole Foundation also had success attracting a big-name influencer for their Hidden Heroes campaign, which highlights and supports the work of caregivers for wounded veterans – Tom Hanks. Again, the lesson is to look for alignment between a celebrity’s interests and work and your cause. The Dole Foundation also has a real advisory group that fully sets the agenda for their work, which has led to a focus on working with cities (130 so far) to find local resources, support, and recognition for caregivers.

The advisory group also led the Foundation to take a more “playful” tone on their social media platforms and to be genuinely interactive, as opposed to just shouting marketing messages at their audiences (something many associations are still guilty of). They also focus on telling the stories of caregivers, and provide camera-ready resources for their ambassadors – literally, because they’re realized that Instagram is the right focus platform for their audience, which is largely mid-20s through mid-50s women.

The panel featured:

  • Angela Greiling Keane, Deputy Managing Editor – States, POLITICO & Former President, National Press Club
  • Ernestine Benedict, Chief Communications Officer, ZERO TO THREE (State of Babies)
  • Madison Moore, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Elizabeth Dole Foundation (Hidden Heroes)
  • Howard M. Walters, Program and Evaluation Officer, W. K. Kellogg Foundation (National Day of Racial Healing)
  • Dr. Nii-Quartelai Quartey, Senior Advisor and National LGBT Liaison, Community, State & National Affairs, Multicultural Leadership, AARP
  • Anthony Shop, Co-Founder, Social Driver & Chairman, National Digital Roundtable (moderator)
  • Barbara McCormack, Vice President of Education, Freedom Forum Institute (host)