What is the news we need in order to flourish?

This is the question posed by IVY Member Molly Swenson, former American Idol contestant (watch Randy accidentally punch her in the face) and passionate entrepreneur who is on a mission to create a more impactful form of news. Her new breaking news platform, RYOT, operates under the belief that news should not only tell us what’s going on in the world, but should tell us specifically what we can do about it.

Read Molly’s insights about the changing world of content and consumption, and the ways individuals can impact both.

Molly In office

Your clicks create the news you’re going to be fed

The unintended consequence of social media has been the democratization of content creation. Now, everyone is a publisher. We discover news via friends’ feeds rather than an established site that you check every morning. The problem is that the process of staying informed is like drinking out of a fire hose.

RYOT is trying to do two things: first, we want to make what’s important interesting, rather than the other way around. Second, we aim to empower readers rather than making them feel helpless, since every one of our stories lets you take action. When the typhoon hit the Philippines in 2013, we posted 15-20 articles that month, and every one was linked to a foundation. We raised $100,000 that our Co-Founder then took to the Philippines himself. We used most of the money to buy a fleet of boats for fisherman who had lost everything. Now, in the Philippines, there’s a whole fleet of RYOT fishing boats!

When it comes to the future of news, I hope people will start to realize that their clicks are actively creating the economy of information that we’re consuming. If you click, then you’re creating the news you are going to be fed. If you can be more selective about what you’re clicking on, you’re being an active and conscientious consumer.

As we continue toward this democratization trend, I think that down the road we’ll quickly be able to pick the sources we want to listen to. Storied institutions will wonder how they can compete with citizen journalism, or else how they can integrate it. Citizens will be thinking: how can I have my voice heard as an individual?

There are three ways for you to be heard

If you create excellent content, it will share itself. But there definitely are a couple things you can do that will get you more views.

  • Ride the news cycle (relevant, trending topics) and it becomes pretty easy to work the SEO game.
  • If you have someone with distribution power partnering with you, it helps. Don’t go for a George Clooney, who is high profile but has very little social media power. Go for someone lower profile who has tons of supportive followers. It’s incredibly powerful.
  • Create a sense of urgency around the content – especially when it comes to taking action. Give someone a way to quickly and immediately make an impact in a person’s life.

Go an inch wide and a mile deep

To me, the scariest possible thing in the world would be to be irrelevant or un-impactful. I used to do consulting for celebrity clients, and I advised them on their philanthropic goals. I worked with everyone from Ben Stiller to Kobe Bryant to Shakira, determining how to leverage their social power toward causes they cared about. I used to tell them to go an inch wide and a mile deep if they wanted to have an impact. If you want to build a legacy beyond acting or singing or sports, really go deep into something and make the commitment to invest fully in it. That will ultimately be more impactful than just giving random donations to twenty different causes.

IVY Members can support

We’d love to talk to members of the community who are connected to brands or agencies, as RYOT has an in-house agency that works with the biggest nonprofits in country. We love to help brands get involved with non-profits in impactful ways.

Molly Swenson is an IVY Member (LA). Connect and collaborate with her here! To learn more about IVY, please visit www.ivy.com.