It’s sometimes said that if you want a really steady income, become an undertaker.
There’s no doubt right now that times are tough all over. The news media is among the industries that have been hit especially hard–in this case, by factors including changing technology and news-consumption habits, but also by lower ad revenues from the weak economy.
If there is a silver lining to be found behind that big ol’ cumulonimbus, however, it is that those same news media are generously donating much of their unsold ad inventory to important public-service messages.
Many of those messages are made possible by the Ad Council, which works with ad agencies on a pro bono basis, in conjunction with partners such as government agencies, to produce important public-service campaigns. A couple of well-known examples are Smokey Bear’s anti-forest-fire admonitions, and Vince and Larry, those wacky crash-test dummies. An article in The New York Times examines this trend.
The Library of Congress for the past several years has proudly been one of those Ad Council partners–initially promoting the value of learning history, and now getting out the word about reading. One of the outcomes of that partnership has been our great (if I must say so myself) website, Literacy.gov.
To date, our Ad Council partnership has yielded a donated media value of more than a quarter of a billion dollars–billion, with a B–for these important messages. (Coincidentally or not, The New York Times has been one of the single biggest supporters of our literacy campaign. I’ve noticed a few of our full-page PSAs in that newspaper in the past several months.)
Hard times are known to bring out the best in people, so it is good to see a few of the ways some folks are giving of themselves to help others.