This week the International Rescue Committee launched "Displaced," a weekly podcast series examining the impact of humanitarian crises around the globe, the effects on people's lives and livelihoods, and innovative solutions to provide meaningful aid. Their first guest was former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
See, there used to be a conventional hierarchy in media. A few main outlets were tastemakers, unchallenged by the economy of scale it would take to create a media company. Even when we transitioned from broadcast to cable and cable to the Internet, this structure basically held minus a couple exceptions.
But now that structure doesn't exist. We live a world where Barstool Sports can challenge ESPN, where new media outlets can seemingly pop up overnight.
And why is that? Because just like every other industry that is being disrupted the barrier to entry has gone away. Creating a successful media site no longer takes years, it can take months.
Why Media Companies Need You
I often write about how companies like Lyft, Airbnb and Postmates only succeed if they keep people interested in their brand. Because while they own great technology, they don't own infrastructure. So people are able to theoretically start driving for or choosing another app at any moment.
And that dictates how the brands act, creating socially-conscious campaigns and movements to make sure they can connect with their users. In our current state of business disruption, creating real connection is the most important currency.
The IRC Airbel Center, whose mission is to design and test life changing scalable solutions for people affected by crisis, has partnered with Vox Media to launch their podcast. And that's a key distinction. They are not advertising with Vox Media, they are creating a mutually beneficial value partnership.
Ravi Gurumurthy, IRC's Chief Innovation Officer, and Grant Gordon, IRC's Director of Innovation Strategy work for a non-profit. And non-profits are very similar to startups when it comes to resources so you have to get creative.
That's why Ravi and Grant created and are hosting this podcast.
"Combining Vox Media's expertise in producing high-quality, informative content with IRC's on-the-ground knowledge in crisis and conflict areas, this podcast is for anyone interested in understanding conflict, its impact on humanity, and the solutions needed to put an end to human suffering," said Gurumurthy.
"Displaced comes at crucial time: the global refugee crisis is growing exponentially, the horrors of civil war persist in Syria, and news of human rights abuses around the world is routinely overshadowed by headlines about political chaos in the U.S." said Nishat Kurwa, executive producer, Vox Media Podcast Network. "Displaced centers these issues, inviting audiences into thoughtful, illuminating conversations between leading human rights defenders and experts from the IRC."
IRC gets media visibility and increased ability to land big guests because of the platform. Vox Media knows podcasting really well and this content helps keep them competitive in an increasingly competitive media landscape. That's a trade that makes sense whether you're a big company, foundation or small business.
Creating Value For Media
Your next logical question as a startup is how do you create value for a partner. You may not have the obvious emotional pull or credibility of a non-profit. But value comes in many shapes, forms and sizes. But generally no partner is ever opposed to great, free content.
The biggest key to remember is that the media landscape is more competitive than ever. And with that competition comes opportunity in the form of trading quality free content for exposure.
So the next time you're sitting on your fourth conference call of the day, propose this idea. Tell your company you should partner with media rather than advertise and give the reasons why. It won't work every time. Sometimes an idea doesn't hit or the timing is wrong but if you do make it work you've created long-term value for both sides.