Blog Post

Move the Meter: Put a Face on Issues to Move the Public

Eliciting empathy remains priority for effective communicators
February 27, 2018

Syria’s horrific week, resulting in the death of 500-plus civilians, has struggled to supplant other media headlines.
Why isn’t the public more outraged by this tragedy?
One explanation: Studies have found that humans struggle to feel empathy toward large groups of people.
Author Paul Brodeur astutely observed that “statistics are human beings with the tears wiped off.”
In other words, numbers don’t move people. People do.
The sadness over hundreds of civilian deaths, including more than 100 children, pales in comparison to the heartache the world felt over the photo of the small Syrian boy whose body washed up on a Turkish beach.
In communications, we talk about the need to “put a face to the issue,” and this quote gets right at that point.
To get people involved in an issue, it must feel personal, immediate and actionable. Statistics, in contrast, can feel abstract and overwhelming.
Here are other recent headlines that caught our attention.
Director of Outreach and Engagement Eric Anderson:
Google will start letting advertisers use search data to target consumers on its YouTube platform. That means advertisers could deliver YouTube ads based on users’ search activities.
“There has been targeting on YouTube based on what videos people watch there,” one ad exec told Ad Age. “Now, for anyone logged in, their search history can be applied to targeting on YouTube.”
What’s appealing to advertisers may be concerning to privacy advocates. The company had kept a wall between search and other ad products, but increased competition from Facebook has made that commitment impractical, according to Ad Age.   
Project Manager Kathleen Ryan:
Using Instagram Stories for your brand remains a hot topic  — and one worth paying attention to.
Whether it be a well-curated photo series, questions that invite a poll response, or a sequence of videos that sends users to a content finale, there are many ways brands can use Instagram Stories to tell good stories.
Content Strategist Allison Nipert:
Snapchat made some big changes recently, transitioning from the “Instagram, but more confusing” social media app to “three things at once — a fun augmented-reality camera, a powerful if confusing messaging platform and a place to watch original, phone-friendly video.”
While users are pretty peeved right now, will this pay off? Snapchat seems to think so. Read more about the changes from the Wall Street Journal to decide for yourself.  

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