Paul Holmes 05 Jan 2011 // 2:18PM GMT
I noted in the Quick Hits post below that the Globe & Mail had selected the It Gets Better campaign as one of the social media “hits” if the year. I’d been following the campaign in a casual sort of way, and thought I’d take this opportunity to comment a little further—and to ask whether corporations missed a terrific CSR opportunity. For those of you unfamiliar with the campaign, It Gets Better was launched in September by author and advice columnist Dan Savage, in response to a wave of suicides by gay teenagers. The concept was brilliantly simple and simply brilliant: Savage posted a video in which he and his long-term boyfriend explained how much better the life of gay teenagers would become after high school. As this article details, the You Tube channel Savage started was inundated with more than 3,000 It Gets Better videos, from clergymen, celebrities, politicians and most of all ordinary gay men and women, talking about the difficulties they experienced in high school and contrasting that experience with their happy adult lives. The campaign provided a classic example of the power of social media: it created a genuinely grassroots phenomenon that became part of the national dialogue online and off. I’m sure Savage and his friends at It Gets Better did not solicit corporate sponsorship, but I’m a little surprised and disappointed that no major corporation recognized the opportunity to get involved, showcasing its progressive credentials and social awareness and helping the campaign reach an even wider audience: extending the reach beyond the Internet with PSA campaign, perhaps? The bottom line is that companies (and their agencies) should be monitoring the Internet for opportunities such as this, ready to jump in on a moment's notice -- something that will require more spontaneity and opportunism than corporate communications departments have been used to.