Getting the media to love your latest NGO report
Posted by: Alistair Clay | 05.03.15


Progressive NGOs and third sector organisations know that lobbying and advocacy is a vital element of their work.

They recognise that it’s as important to change opinion, and to influence key decision makers, as it is to seek out sources of finance.

At the heart of this strategy is often a campaign report, or a series of white papers, demonstrating thought leadership as an organisation.

Frequently the communications team is called in during the latter stages of the process with the task of winning ‘significant and impactful media coverage’ for the new report. Mistake number one.

If it’s important to you that the key messages from your report receive a wider audience than just your usual stakeholders – and I would say it usually is – then you must involve your media team right from the inception of the report.

Why? Because the criteria for a genuinely newsworthy report are very particular and must be embedded at the heart of the process otherwise media pick up will be scant.

Crucially, and this may sound rather obvious, the report must say something genuinely new. It must contain new facts, observations or insight that moves forward your field of expertise. A ‘greatest hits’ style report of previously published data will be of very limited import to the media.

Secondly, really think about your key messages. Few time-poor journalists are going to read your entire report, you’ll probably have about 350 words copy space so think carefully about those two or three take away messages that have to leap out of the report.

Put a human face to your report. Quality, emotive case studies are absolutely crucial for the news media – remember they are in the business of stories and will want to know how the issue you campaign on affects actual living human beings.

Finally, ensure your report spokespeople are media trained and ready to share your key messages with broadcast channels and be armed with quality video content that can be shared with them and through your social media channels.

The competition is fierce to win mainstream media coverage for your issue.

Give yourself a fighting chance by ensuring a communications professional has a lead role in the creation of your report. If you fail to do this don’t blame the comms department if your report is met with media silence on launch day…