Topics in Emerging Media and Communications

Posts Tagged ‘social good

Please Vote! Vote! Vote! Thank you.

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This last week I’ve been doing some investigating for my research topic. I’ve decided to focus my attention on Kohl’s Cares and Pepsi Refresh campaigns, as they are the most prominent users of crowd sourcing for corporate philanthropy and they primarily focus their efforts on voter campaigns.

In a few of my readings I came across some questions I had not yet considered. One of the major problems with corporate giving campaigns is that they are not legally required to disclose information about their charitable giving. The crowd sourcing component helps alleviate some of this secrecy, but if you peruse either campaign’s website, it is difficult or impossible to find statistics or concrete information about completed projects or where the dollars were distributed.  Both projects provide a spotlight for less visible charities, as well as the possibility for financial support, but from what I’ve observed, there are so many charities vying for the same grant that it feels overwhelming for the voter. After all, Pepsi Refresh’s campaign slogan is “refresh everything”, quite a tall order if you ask me.

Kohl’s focuses their charitable giving efforts on women, children, and environmental causes, while Pepsi Refresh spans the spectrum of social causes, community and nation-wide. What both companies tap into is their customer’s brand loyalty, but could they potentially lose their followers by aggressively promoting voting campaigns? Customers may be confused by the number of charities to vote for, they may question the effectiveness of the grants being distributed, And they feel pressured to constantly vote, they will become apathetic to the cause and overwhelmed. These concerns will likely be a challenge for corporations to overcome as the future of crowd-sourcing  expands.


Written by HiuHiMedia

April 20, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Infostreams and Action

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Contributing to the Internet stream of circulating content in a meaningful way is vital to bringing about change. Megan Boler’s “Digital Media and Democracy” discusses tactical media and it’s attempts to exploit online communities to bring about political change.  The arguments around tactical media’s role in democracy can also be applied to the use of crowdsourcing as a way of making individuals and communities feel involved in the process of change.

Crowdsouricng is a problem-solving model that sends out an open call for solutions to a crowd. For our purposes we will distinguish this crowd as an online community. The crowd is encouraged to submit solutions to the problem and the best solutions are then owned and implemented by the crowdsourcer (the submitter of the problem). This method of problem solving  offers the benefit of low-cost solutions in a short amount of time, use of a wide range of talent outside of internal network, insight into desires of crowd, and the crowd developing a sense of ownership through their contributions.

One of the benefits I’d like to hone in on is the idea of contribution through crowdsourcing. In the article “Communicative Capitalism: Circulation and the Foreclosure of Capitalism” Jodi Dean discusses the Internet in terms of a circulating data stream where messages are not necessarily new, just repackaged, “…the message is simply part of the circulating data stream. Its particular content is irrelevant. Who sent it is irrelevant. Who receives it is irrelevant. That it need to be responded to to is irrelevant. The only thing that is relevant is circulation, the addition to the pool (107).” Individuals and small communities can contribute to the infostream, which makes them feel as though they experience a registration effect; they are contributing to the big picture. But if the information surrounding the message is irrelevant, then how does the individual gain a sense of ownership in the Internet space, in effect, how does the individual feel valued? Dean says that “Precisely because of this registration effect, people believe that their contribution to circulating content is a kind of communicative action. They believe that they are active, maybe even that the make a difference simply by clicking on a button, adding there name to a petition or commenting on a blog (109).”

Written by HiuHiMedia

February 22, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Posted in Social Media

Tagged with ,

Brand It

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As referenced in my previous personal post regarding social good, I am trying to formulate a better understanding of how to connect people in a meaningful way to bring about change. Reading Habermas left me a bit disillusioned in my thinking because of his scorn for modern consumption and our reliance on external assistance.

I assumed that if you provided the infrastructure, a slick marketing campaign, and serious networking was the formula for success. But this formula is missing the dangling carrot. In a society that is overloaded by consumerism, people will not act unless there is some real benefit to them. Ie: people will much more likely buy a campaign (RED) t-shirt than send a check in the mail to Africa because they are getting something out of the bargain.

In fact, JoinRed gives a list of corporate sponsors, all providing products to consumers who want to do good and get something too.

(Note the Starbucks cup above designed by Jonathan Adler thrown in the mix)

Clearly having corporate sponsorship legitimizes your non-profit. It also helps promote brand awareness and adds that “coolness” factor. The most successful non-profit humanitarian organizations have presented themselves as a brand, which makes one ask the question of do the means justify the end result?

My conclusion for now is that if we believe Habermas’ assertion that modern society is driven by the life of leisure consumerism and it is impossible to connect with others, then I suppose we need to go after society’s desires. We have to dangle that corporate branded carrot in front of their noses.

Written by HiuHiMedia

January 26, 2011 at 5:53 pm