Positivity Pays: How Hearst is using positive content to engage audiences and advertisers alike

One of the highlights of last week’s PPA Festival was getting the inside track on the Hearst Positivity Project. Hearst UK research has highlighted how positive media environments can positively impact the connection with target audiences and commercial partners, and at a special session at the event, the Positivity Project team revealed the evidence behind the theory, sharing the findings of their latest emotional uplift survey.

Faye Turner, Hearst UK’s Head of Commercial Strategy & Insight, explained how taking a positive approach to content creation has not only helped to raise audience engagement, but also given the company a modern identity to crystalise itself around. 

“The first thing to ask is why positivity, and why Hearst for positivity? We have 21 iconic brands, and we were trying to think of a common theme that could unite them all together. Because while the content is great, we produce it for very niche, often very diverse passion bases. So we ended up having a bit of an ‘Aha!’ moment when we realised that positivity is naturally embedded throughout all of the content we produce.” 

To test the impact of positive content, audience studies were conducted, and the results were… well, positive! 

“When we looked at the shifts that our positive content could influence, the biggest were across enthusiasm, excitement, and determination. Audiences were found to be 36% happier, 28% more excited, and 28% more enthusiastic having engaged with us. Uplifts in such emotions were enjoyed for at least 24hrs after interactions with our brands, which of course provides a window of opportunity in which to communicate with them in a positive way.”

“From start to end, people were becoming more positive by engaging with us, and the more they engaged, the more positive they became.”  

Hearst believes that its purpose today is to provide the intersection between positivity and performance. Many of the company’s campaigns are award winning or award nominated creative pursuits, but also produce some powerful results results.

They are built on the combined foundations of powerful brands, reach of platforms, and the strength of editors, and specifically designed to tackle issues to help people get more out of their life.

For those looking to embark upon their own positivity journeys, the publisher recommends focussing on the following three key areas: 

  1. Think positive – personal benefits, plus also benefit for advertisers, brands, marketers, etc.
  2. Build in that emotional connection to all of your content
  3. Consider how you can connect on a meaningful level – meaning can of course be delivered on many different levels.” 

You can find out more about the Hearst Positivity project here.


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