People always ask me, “What was your favorite spot?” Usually, I find that question irrelevant because “favorite” doesn’t necessarily mean impactful or reflect a good business strategy or a compelling message. Often, a favorite just made you smile and feel all warm inside. That’s OK, but not necessarily an experience that drives the bottom line or is worth duplicating for my clients.

This year is different.

There are several solid reasons why Drew’s Favorite Award goes to Verizon’s The Coach Who Couldn’t Be Here.

Why This Is My Favorite

  1. This is a great story and told well – I love a great story
  2. This is an authentic story – The market responds to authenticity which seems to be lacking in today’s world
  3. They make the customer the hero – “First Responders Answer the Call” states a graphic in the spot
  4. They don’t overstep their role in this powerful story – “Our Job Is to Make Sure They Get It”
  5. The alignment between what Verizon delivers, their position in the market and how this story gets told is exceptional – “America’s Most Reliable Network”
  6. They provide plenty more stories as proof of their position –
  7. Meanwhile, the competition is tripping over themselves as T-Mobile is promoting Free Taco Tuesday and Sprint is combining Bo Jackson, a mermaid, and a flying unicorn in a non-compelling message.

Drew’s Soapbox – You’ve Been Warned

The Washington Post put together a powerful commercial called Democracy Dies in Darkness. Overall, I wholly endorse the content of this spot.

This spot is more about the media in general than The Washington Post. It features images of Anderson Cooper (CNN) and Bret Baier (Fox News) and deceased journalists Austin Tice, Marie Colvin (The Sunday Times) and Jamal Khashoggi (The Washington Post).

Tom Hanks gives a compelling voice over to the script:

There is someone to gather the facts.
_To bring you _the story_
_No matter the cost.
Knowing _empowers us.
_Knowing _helps us decide.
_Knowing _keeps us free.
_Democracy Dies in Darkness

First. Fast. Accurate.

In Cincinnati, we had a news station whose tagline was “First, Fast, Accurate.” I was stunned when I heard that repeated again and again in promotions. In their own words they are telling the viewer that accuracy was a third priority. They will intentionally sacrifice accuracy for being first or fast.

Unfortunately, I see this continues to happen today. First. Fast. Anything but accurate.

Reagan Assassination Attempt**

Frank Reynolds was co-anchor of World News Tonight when President Reagan was shot on March 30, 1981. I was watching the live coverage when Reynolds was handed a news bulletin. He read it to himself and asked a person off camera, “Has this been confirmed?” When the answer came back, “No,” Reynolds’ on-camera response was, “I can’t read that.” This is an example of journalistic integrity.

Here is the problem that I see.

I want the media to report the facts. Tell us the story based on the facts. That isn’t happening so much. The bulk of the 24-hour news cycle is opinion, hyperbole and agenda-driven narratives. I am a brand story teller. I write compelling copy. I see the embellishment, sensationalism and bias that is common throughout the media and how “news” is often used to portray a certain narrative.

I believe in the freedom of the press.

Much like the police are empowered to use lethal force to protect our society, the press needs to be empowered to gather the facts and tell the story. Both the police and the press need to be held accountable for misuses of that power.

Takeaways for the Media:

  1. Report the facts.
  2. Bring us the story based on the facts. Not your opinion. Not your agenda. And certainly not the most extreme possibility of what is likely not to happen.
  3. Hold yourself and your industry accountable – This is easily done by reporting facts… Think Frank Reynolds. When you make a mistake, admit it. And then correct it with the same volume and frequency that you reported the error.
  4. Remember, democracy dies in the darkness of unconfirmed reports, anonymous leaks and being first instead of accurate. Be like Frank!

Takeaways for Americans:

  1. Never depend on one media source for your information – Tap into several sources that bring different perspectives.
  2. Facebook and Twitter are not news sources.
  3. Consider fasting from news media – It’s refreshing.
  4. Remember, knowing the facts empowers us, helps us decide and keeps us FREE!
  5. Democracy dies in darkness – Be the light.