Cap Times Idea Fest offers businesses the chance to support a vital public good for the Madison community

Cap Times Idea Fest offers businesses the chance to support a vital public good for the Madison community

Aug 2, 2022 | Events

By Jacob Owca, Madison Media Partners contributor

Recently I looked into how Madison Media Partners represents the Cap Times, Wisconsin State Journal and — three pillars of local journalism in Madison. I was curious about how a marketing firm’s connection to journalism could benefit advertisers. What I learned was that with these connections, businesses can better ingrain themselves in the Madison community for the Madison community. 

One example is Cap Times Idea Fest. Chris Murphy, the Cap Times’ managing editor, is one of the staffers who developed the festival five years ago. This annual event invites intelligent and influential speakers to discuss major issues for Madison and Wisconsin, including politics, equity, the COVID-19 pandemic, sports, and food. Sessions are held virtually and in person across Madison. 

In the political realm, the fest has featured big names like Washington Post Chief Correspondent Dan Balz, who last year covered Wisconsin’s political climate heading into 2022. For sports fans, Idea Fest brought ESPN senior writer Howard Bryant for a talk about sports and social justice. Across all topics, Chris made it clear that Idea Fest brings outstanding speakers and hosts invaluable discussions about Madison and beyond. 

Chris also describes the festival as a “richer” version of the experience you get from a traditional newspaper. “It’s the difference between watching sports on TV and being there on the 50-yard line,” he said.

It’s uncommon for businesses to dip their toe outside of their realm of work, let alone into touchy areas like politics. So why would a business put their logo and their dollars behind an event like Cap Times Idea Fest? 

“Journalism is a vital public good for any community,” Chris said. “We live in a time where the business models that support print and other mediums of journalism are struggling, so we need events like Cap Times Idea Fest and its sponsors in order to keep informing the public.” 

Just as the Cap Times provides Madison with rich, community-engaging discussions, their sponsors do the same by funding those efforts. Even though not everyone has Quartz as an insurance provider, for instance, everyone benefits from journalism. Idea Fest attendees will remember Quartz’s contribution to local journalism as a sponsor when they look for insurance or need to make a recommendation. 

Perhaps most importantly, though, joining the Idea Fest space fosters rapport with Madison’s community and consumers in a way that’s hard to replicate. Usually, businesses advertise using words, like those displayed on a billboard, for example, or words spoken by people on television. When a business sponsors Idea Fest, they advertise themselves and their logo using their actions. As cliché as it may sound, actions speak louder than words. 

When businesses put their logos on the sponsor list instead of buying a billboard and they use their dollars to keep journalism alive for Madison, they show their customers that they care about them not only as a customer, but as a fellow Madisonian. 

Without hesitation, Chris exclaimed, “Yes!”

When Madisonians discuss issues like politics and pandemics, it can feel tempting to avoid those discussions and do business in less charged spaces. However, when a business uses their dollars to keep Madisonians’ dialogue alive, they use their dollars to keep the Madison community alive. Furthermore, they put their name in front of the public and position themselves as more than a seller to their customers –– they position themselves as an advocate for them, too.

Tickets are now on sale for this year’s Cap Times Idea Fest, taking place Sept. 12-17, 2022. Learn more at For more information on how to sponsor this fest, email Mike Kornemann at 

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