Name: Rachel Barber-Mack, Director of Media Smart
For the last 6 years, I have been leading the advertising industry’s award winning not-for-profit - Media Smart. Prior to that my twenty plus years of experience have been largely focussed around social impact initiatives and youth. My passion is in connecting organisations, people, projects, ideas and opportunities to make good things happen. Media Smart’s mission is to equip young people with the skills and attributes to navigate media and digital literacy today for better employability, well-being & citizenship tomorrow. I work with our supporters to bring the very best talent and skills of the advertising industry to the fore to help educate and inspire younger generations. I love my work and I’m proud of what we have achieved.
Linked In: @racheljbarber
Media Smart works with 32 supporters from the world of advertising, so my day job involves a lot of networking across different industry organisations. What’s been great to see during the course of 2020 is the continued movement for responsible advertising, especially over the critical issue of the climate emergency. It’s something we’re hoping Media Smart can support in 2021+.
Mid-November saw the Advertising Association launch Ad Net Zero – an industrywide initiative to support UK advertising in its response to the climate crisis. The Ad Net Zero 5-point action plan includes harnessing the power of the sector to support citizen behaviour change. What an exciting brief for them to take on…
Then there’s the Purpose Disruptors – a network of insiders on a mission to create a visible, large scale, bottom-up movement within advertising and marcomms to meaningfully tackle climate change. This inspiring group came together virtually over the summer to launch The Great Reset, seizing a unique moment in time during the global pandemic to campaign for us all to avoid reverting to ‘business as usual’. Within a matter of weeks this group had written a white paper, garnered industrywide pledges of support and launched an ad campaign across print, digital, outdoor and radio. They are ones to watch…
As a champion of media and digital literacy, we’re always looking for the most up-to-date information on young people (and how, where, when, with whom and how much media and digital content they are consuming). A go-to resource for me every year is the OFCOM Children’s Media Lives Study. The Feb 2020 report highlighted the long-term trends amongst young people - like the continuing rise of ‘star’ YouTubers, the growing consumption of on-demand content over live content and the trend of kids watching less content as a family and consuming more content alone. I’ve been in a fortunate position within Media Smart to be able to work proactively with industry to equip young people with skills and attributes to help them navigate this increasingly complex world. This inspired us in 2019 to develop our influencer marketing resource which educates on the commercial side of content creation, the rules that regulate it and to evaluate its effectiveness.
I’m always on the lookout for inspiring new content that’s investing in young people with new skills or attributes. I’ve got to give a shout-out here to Lego, not just because I have my own young brick builder at home. If you didn’t catch their event in November on World Children’s Day in partnership with UNICEF, then it’s definitely worth a look. Lego have been on a mission to inspire parents and caregivers to start a conversation with their children about cyberbullying, with free downloadable Build & Talk activity packs. What’s not to love? Let’s get building!
Media Smart resources are designed first and foremost for teachers, so I try to keep up with what’s happening in schools and the curriculum. And what a year it’s been for the education sector! Schools and teachers have been incredible through the trials of 2020. With so many challenges thrown at them - from shutting to re-opening, from forming bubbles to setting up remote learning, an underlying commitment not just to academic progress but to children’s holistic well-being has remained throughout. In March and April 2020, Media Smart saw its biggest ever months for resource downloads as schools and parents looked to set students up for the best distance learning opportunities they could.
Given my work is all about young people, I’m a big fan of First News. They provide simple, fun, inspiring, digestible content to help 7-14 year olds keep their finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the world, their Editor In Chief, Nicky Cox MBE is brilliant @NickyCoxMBE and I must admit, I find it quite a helpful read too!
With a busy week juggling work and parenthood, I really appreciate bitesize and timely info, so I love the Friday Blog that lands in my inbox from one of our partners, SuperAwesome, summarising everything going on in the kids’ digital media ecosystem.
I’ve been on a bit of a mission this year to grow awareness of Media Smart across even more of the advertising industry. One of the ways we’ve done this is by putting ourselves forward for some awards. I’m pretty chuffed that we won some, including a Global Good Award, two Corporate Engagement Awards & three International CSR Excellence Awards. Why am I telling you this? Well, it’s actually been a fantastic source of inspiration, reviewing competitors and winners in our sector and in others. There really has been some inspiring work done over the last twelve months by so many businesses, charities and organisations to bring about positive change for society and the planet.
Lastly, I have to mention dogspirational content. November saw a new addition to our family, of the four-legged type. YouTube tutorials have mostly been my go-to for advice on things puppy related. It’s definitely a work in progress I hasten to add…