January 20, 2021
Key takeaway: “Do something rather than nothing. But don’t just say something.”
In this episode of “Purpose, Inc.,” host Michael Young talked to Melissa Anderson, co-founder and president of Public Good Software. Public Good has become the leader in making news actionable, working with CNN, HuffPost, USA Today, and other leading publishers as well as brands like Unilever and Danone.
If you’re reading a story about Black Lives Matter on a site that partners with Public Good, say, you may find links that take you to Black Lives Matter, where you can make a donation.
The idea of embedding an action like “Donate to American Red Cross” in an article is hardly new, Melissa told Michael. What is new is scalable technology that embeds those links automatically.
“We give brands the opportunity to sponsor these actions, which does two things,” she explained. “It drives awareness of what these purpose brands are doing to make a difference, and empowers people to make a difference alongside that brand.”
Media partners benefit from this approach by changing the impact of the news on readers—and readers become empowered to act, rather than getting depressed or feeling powerlessness. Nonprofits who become the beneficiary of these campaigns benefit, too.
The turmoil of the past year has demonstrated over and over again that brands can and should respond to the events of the day—whether it’s being called to demonstrate their commitment to racial justice or environmental sustainability. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it, Melissa said. She advocated for the following approach:
Due to the fear of backlash, Melissa continued, many brands have backed away from courting controversy. “The most important thing to understand is that silence itself is absolutely a statement,” she said. “It’s a mistake to think by speaking out, you’re not staying neutral or are staying safe from criticism.”