Having worked in and around newspapers, television and radio for more years than we care to remember, we know the media often gets a bad rap. So does social media – think fake news, internet trolls and screen addiction.
But over the last few weeks, anyone from Shropshire – which just so happens to be our beautiful neck of the woods – and beyond has witnessed how the media machine can be a force for good.
When four-year-old Zac Oliver’s family launched a desperate appeal to raise £500,000 to pay for cancer treatment in America after exhausting the options available in the UK, little could they predict what would happen next.
A social media campaign led to local press interest, which in turn led to more people joining the fundraising effort as awareness grew.
The campaign gained national attention and culminated in a generous £50,000 donation from music mogul Simon Cowell – topped only by an incredible £100,000 gift from an anonymous donor to help them hit their target earlier this week.
In the lead up to this, hundreds of events were held in the community and the appeal received social media backing from the likes of West Bromwich Albion FC, footballer Jermain Defoe, and TV presenter Jonathan Ross amongst others. Posts were liked and shared thousands of time by thousands of people, leading to donations pouring in.
We were all touched by Zac’s plight and we’re proud to say we played our small part in the best way we could think of, by freely donating our time and resources as a PR agency over the last few weeks to help tell his story far and wide.
It’s been humbling to see our wider community pull together to support the appeal, ultimately giving Zac the best chance possible of beating his illness. And our traditional media and its younger upstart, social media, have shown how their power and influence can be life-changing in a positive way.
We’ll all be thinking of Zac and his family over the coming weeks and months as they prepare for the next stage of their battle in America.
Go on Zac, we’re all rooting for you – we know you can beat it!
You can still donate to Zac’s appeal here.