When you think of media, and what you use it for, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? As with a number of things, the answer will likely differ by person, age, or even factors such as geography. Media serves us in a number of ways—it informs, entertains, educates. But it also helps drive change at many levels.

Earlier this month, a session at the AMMC conference focused on using media for a purpose. Featuring First Lady Michele Obama, as well as actresses Lena Dunham and Julianne Moore, it highlighted the role of media platforms as a means to inform and bring about change. Another session, featuring Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post, focused on similar topics.

As a change agent in the media industry, media purpose is a topic that resonates with me, because it’s such an obvious component of what publishing is about. But not everyone is tuned in to the power of the platform they are working with, at the level they could or should be. Sometimes it’s just bottom-line focused and not purposeful at all.

As the mobile and social world of media continues to explode in magnitude, as the First Lady suggests, now more than ever it’s our responsibility to use platforms wisely, to create a future that is better than what we have today. Media creates such an opportunity to drive that.

Michelle Obama’s perspective on media was direct and refreshing, maybe because she’s not a traditional, culturally entrenched publisher and comes at it from a fresh perspective with a specific agenda: to communicate with people where they are, in a way that allows them to easily absorb information. To her, it’s obvious that’s on the mobile platform, in social tools. It’s a concept, however, that many publishers are still struggling to grasp and migrate to.

What’s compelling is how she uses the platform and her place to make a difference. Her support of the Let Girls Learn initiative is one example of that.

Many publishers have strong missions behind their publishing objectives. For example:

  • National Geographic‘s mission is to use the power of science, exploration, and storytelling to change the world. It’s a very tightly aligned purpose.
  • For Atlantic Media, it’s mission is dedicated to equipping opinion leaders with breakthrough ideas and original insights. Atlantic’s chairman and owner, David Bradley, participates on a number of purpose-driven boards, including the Council on Foreign Relations, the New America Foundation, KIPP DC, Bridges of Understanding, and the Manila-based Child Protection Network.
  • Mother Jones scores high on purpose-driven media as well, as a nonprofit news outlet that delivers bold and original award-winning reporting on the urgent issues of our day, from politics and climate change to education and the food we eat.

So the question is, given that as publishers we now have global reach, multiple channels, and audiences drawn to our content, how can we best use that to make a difference and not just focus on the bottom line? Are we giving this enough importance in our daily efforts, and are we using media to drive positive change?

I’m interested in your perspectives, thoughts, and opinions. Please share them below! Also see TFP’s February Book Picks on using media to drive change.

Image: Whitehouse.gov

CEO Margot Knorr Mancini’s monthly blog on content strategy shares valuable insights and observations from her experiences in the publishing industry. 

Check out her other articles in our Content Strategy section. Also sign up for TFP’s newsletter briefings, including Media Metrics and This Week in Publishing, which highlights our weekly industry news picks and tips to help you stay informed. Have a suggestion for a topic you’d like to know more about? Drop us a note!

Posted by: Margot Knorr Mancini

A thought leader in the publishing industry, Margot Knorr Mancini has helped numerous publishers redefine their missions to become nimble content generators with the ability to repurpose content easily and efficiently. As Founder & CEO of Technology for Publishing, her analytical mind allows her to remain a step ahead of the industry, recognizing early trends and developing pivotal best practices.