Jason Wagenheim is the Chief Revenue Officer for Bustle Digital Group. He’s worked closely on Ad Council’s End Family Fire campaign, which launched in 2018 to help end shootings involving an improperly stored or misused gun found in the home that results in death or injury. With his fellow colleagues, he co-leads the campaign’s “media squad” to solicit as much media and content support as possible from the publishing and broadcast communities, encouraging safe and responsible gun ownership. See what he had to say about social good work and the advice he would give to up-and-coming media professionals!
Q: Social good ads pull at our heartstrings. What social good ad has made you cry or stand up and cheer?
Jason Wagenheim: “Love has no Labels” immediately comes to mind. It’s such a relevant, happy and purposeful message that very effectively squashes any ounce of hate or negativity out there. Its message is indisputable and especially important now given this “turbulent” political and cultural climate.
Q: How do you or your team integrate social good into your work, or how do you think your brand is making the world a better place?
JW: Some of the core tenets Bustle Digital Group launched upon in 2013 were around feminism, body positivity and celebrating diverse viewpoints. It was core then and remains core now. Many of our brands are committed to telling untold stories and giving under-represented voices a place to be heard.
Q: Why do you think it’s important for brands to have a corporate social responsibility plan in the world we live in?
JW: We live in a world where social responsibility is a critical factor and should be embedded into the DNA of every organization—purpose-driven brands are out-performing the stock market by 134%! In 2019 and beyond, the opportunities for companies to positively influence our future is unprecedented. We’ve conducted a lot of research on the power and importance of social purpose and have built a business around it. Corporate Social Responsibility is the engine that powers BDG Brand Newsroom, which works with major clients like Unilever and GE to develop content through lens of purpose.
Q: What was the greatest piece of advice someone gave you, and how did it end up helping you?
JW: My family has a saying: Everything is going to be alright, and if it’s not, don’t worry, we’ll figure it out. That’s become ingrained in me and it’s something I tell myself whenever I’m in a challenging situation. I have my family, I have my health, I’ve got a great career for which I’m all very proud—those situations that typically stress us out, in the grand scheme of things, typically aren’t worth it relative to what’s really important in life.
Q: What age would you want to meet up with your former self, and what advice would you give to that younger you?
JW: I’d go back to my twenties when I was more impatient, afraid to take certain risks and immature as a manager and I’d give myself that same advice—it’s all going to be fine, dude, just relax.
Q: If you were giving a commencement speech to this year’s college graduates, what would you want them to know?
JW: First, I’d say “stop and look up” more often. Get off your damn phone, there’s life happening right in front of you and it’s awesome! Second, don’t underestimate the importance of being likeable and a team player. We spend more time with those we work with than we do our family and friends. I think you can be more successful and happy if you surround yourself with likeable people. Have a positive attitude, smile and say hello, cheer the victories of others, offer to work on projects that might not be part of your responsibility, be an active participant in life and work—these are some of the “intangibles” you hear about that help some people advance over others.
Q: How has your organization improved or innovated the digital landscape in the last year?
JW: Our strategy at Bustle Digital Group is to build and run a modern media company made up of a portfolio of great brands that engage readers at scale. We focus on operational and executional excellence both internally and for our brand partners, and we’ve been able to run a very healthy, stable business as a result. Digital media can be successful now, even in this era of the so-called duopoly, and we’re proving that.
Q: What value(s) of your organization are you most proud of?
JW: We are a company built on a number of core values, including entrepreneurship, authenticity and trust. I really believe the best way to keep our company moving forward is to inspire creativity, provide a safe environment to take risks and make sure everyone keeps learning. Each of these values are key to the way that we manage our business, and what we expect from everyone on our team.
Q: What can we look forward to from your organization this year?
JW: We’ve recently scaled our Brand Newsroom product across the entire organization, so you’ll see us do even more CSR-type work for our partners. I’m particularly excited about that because the team that makes up this department lives and breathes its mission—giving them opportunities to do more incredible work in this space will be awesome to watch, while helping our partners do great work and expand BDG’s offerings. We’ll also continue acquiring other strong and relevant media brands, and at the moment we’re especially excited about building a tech and men’s vertical within our portfolio. Our recent acquisition of Inverse will be the foundation upon which we build it.
Q: You’re planning a “Change the World” dinner party and you can invite anyone (living, dead or fictional). Who are three people on your list?
- Bono, because no “Change the World” event should happen without him.
- Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, because if we’re truly going to change the world, we could probably use a few dragons.
- My Mother, because it would give her bragging rights at her next aqua-cise class that her son got Bono and Khaleesi together for a dinner to change the world.