If you’re feeling a bit down and you can’t quite work out why, it may be because you’ve seen the news recently. The media thrives on negative stories. Media studies show that bad news far outweighs good news by as much as seventeen negative news stories for every one positive news story. Every day, we are inundated with sinister stories and depressing information fed to us by mainstream media. While learning about the dark side of the world can propel us into making positive changes, in most cases sinister stories serve no purpose but to sell papers to the voyeurs and cynics of this world.

I remember feeling resentment towards the New Zealand media earlier this year when they prolonged coverage of the Charleston shooting. I felt tremendously sad and powerless at the time as there was little I could do but feel deep sympathy for the victims. The media coverage went on and on, obsessing over all the details, so that even when I wasn’t reading about the story, I was still thinking about it. I could only imagine that the people of Charleston would have felt twice as upset as me, but also may have been less inclined to leave their house that day.

Negative media stories are not just upsetting the public; they’re also harming business. In 2009, economists in the US found a correlation between negative media stories about the recession and consumer spending during the recession. The more fearful people were about the recession, the less inclined they were to go out and spend as usual. There were industries that benefited from the sinister stories such as the drug, sex and gambling industries, but for most businesses, the fearful public spelled bad news. Nothing has really changed.

The New Zealand media seem all too keen to publish a sad or sinister story. With that said, is there an opportunity for businesses to lighten up the mood a little bit when the media have consumers feeling down? Social media is not only a comparatively cheap platform on which to advertise, it is also the best way to constantly connect with consumers. It’s also how media companies engage readers. What I have noticed is that when people see something bad, they will often look for something good to negate those unpleasant feelings. They’re looking for a pick-me-up and that is where the smart business comes in.

Last week I opened my Facebook account and the first post to appear was a video of ISIS, yet again senselessly destroying something sacred and historic. Without clicking on anything, the New Zealand Herald’s video began to play and I was subjected to a couple of seconds of explosions and flames. Needless to say, my mood was immediately dampened, in fact, I felt violated. I scrolled down to the next post and that’s when life improved. A local café had posted a photo of the most decadent chocolate cake I have ever seen. The cake flaunted three layers of rich chocolate with ebony sauce dripping down the front side. Accompanying the photo was an even sweeter headline “Chocolate fixes everything.” I repeated the line in my head and in my moment of sadness, I agreed, chocolate was a fix I could do with. That weekend I visited the café and I ordered the cake that was advertised. It wasn’t nearly as delicious as the Facebook photo suggested, but it didn’t matter, the café had won my money due to their timely on-line post.

Advertising campaigns do not always need to be mesmerizingly clever and original, sometimes strategic placement and good timing will do the trick. Like most things in life, advertising is all about timing. With so many negative stories constantly circulating the Internet, it’s easy to find a good time to advertise your brand and be a contrast to a negative story.

The social media revolution has enabled businesses to reach out to consumers 24/7 and thanks to media sites, there’s a lot of displeasing information constantly crowding the Internet. Perhaps there’s something your business could be doing on-line to help customers forget about all of the negativity?