New Campaign Wants to ‘Protect Our Press’

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A Boston-based independent, creative-led advertising agency, Allen & Gerritsen (A&G), wants to assist newsrooms in their fight for survival with a new initiative called Protect Our Press. The goal is to preserve local, professional journalism in communities across America.

“It’s time to admit that the advertising industry has been culpable in the decline of local journalism,” Will Phipps, A&G senior vice president of media, said in a press release. “Agencies have been complicit by excluding ‘news’ from clients’ plans, fearing the unpredictable nature of the category. But the reality is that there’s a great opportunity in the local news community, and when we start to collaborate with our clients to seize these moments, we have the ability to help build back this critical pillar of journalism.”

Protect Our Press calls on agencies, brands, publishers and individuals to take a pledge. It asks agencies to create a meaningful target, such as 20 percent of their programmatic budget to news sites; brands to review and rethink their approach to local news investments; publishers to create smarter, better value for Protect Our Press participants, and individuals to subscribe to one or more local news publishers.

When E&P spoke with Phipps, he said this initiative was not A&G’s first passion project. For instance, they launched the “Drop the Address” campaign, an initiative that removes zip code bias from job applications via online systems.

To launch Protect Our Press, A&G partnered with Boston Globe Media, Museum of Science, ANA and 4A’s. The Globe has agreed to provide A&G with exclusive access to premium advertising placement, content collaborations, access to its first-party data and more. The Boston-based Museum of Science was the first of A&G’s clients to participate in the initiative. It committed to a three-month sponsorship of the Globe’s COVID-19 and climate change coverage, subjects both the Globe and the museum are passionate about, Phipps said.

Both the advertising associations, ANA and 4A’s, have pledged their support for the initiative and are committed to helping A&G spread awareness. A&G is working with them to expand the website’s resource section to include white papers about the initiative, as well as downloadable programmatic exclusion lists that have a more subtle approach to news adjacency guardrails than the current industry standard.

A&G hopes to see a significant impact in a year and will stay in touch with participants to monitor any changes as a result of their pledges. They hope to update the initiative’s progress on the Protect the Press website quarterly.

When the campaign launched in February, Phipps said they received hundreds of pledges, but there is no set goal for how many pledges the campaign wishes to garner. Instead, Phipps put the emphasis on the impact of the initiative.

 “We want to make a meaningful difference. So, I don’t mind if we just get one more pledge this year,” he said. “It’s not about the total number. It’s about the commitment and the effect of one pledge, which could be part of millions of dollars of expenditure.”

For more information, visit protectourpress.org.

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