Cutting through the Covid-19 noise – what are journalists looking for?

As Covid-19 dominates the headlines, this week’s blog explores how charities can get media coverage as well as journalists' attitudes towards charities.
Becca Thomas 
 

The past few weeks have seen Covid-19 dominate the headlines. The optimism that charity media teams may have had for a clearer news agenda following Brexit in January was short-lived, and the coming weeks and months are shrouded with uncertainty. Perhaps the only thing of which we can be sure of is that it is unlikely that this story will be going away any time soon. In the midst of what has seemed like the biggest global crisis in living memory, however, we have witnessed heart-warming displays of selflessness, care, bravery, and creativity from people from all walks of life. Whether it be Captain Tom and his 100th Birthday Walk for the NHS[1], Swedish Princess Sofia volunteering as a medical assistant in a Stockholm hospital[2], the countless people who signed up to be NHS Volunteer Responders, or indeed all of those who have stepped up to help provide for the most vulnerable in their local communities – the spirit of charity is well and truly alive at the moment; and people are taking notice of it.

So how, if at all, can charities hope to capture the attention of journalists and get much needed-coverage of their issues right now?

 

The good news is that 99% of 167 journalists we polled in Oct/Nov last year (all of whom had recently covered a charity story) either strongly agreed or agreed that charities play a vital role in society, and 93% strongly agreed or agreed that charities make a real difference. It is encouraging to know that you’re trying to get through to an audience who sees your work as vital, and think that you do does make a difference.

Also, in Oct/Nov 2019, we asked journalists (from a list of prompts) how they would spend a few thousand pounds if they were a charity media team. The top result? Making front-line staff available for interviews/comments, selected by 49% of journalists. Fewer journalists (28%) expressed an interest in charity chief executives being available for interviews/comments.

Even before the crisis unfolded, journalists had an appetite for the authenticity that comes with the first-hand experience of an issue. So, we ask you:

  • How has your service delivery changed since the crisis began?
  • How has it affected your beneficiaries?
  • How does your work affect the lives of the people you work for, and, crucially, what will happen if you are unable to keep on delivering your services?

Now more than ever before, charities need to get to the heart of why they exist and tell stories from that place, with the voices of the people who exist there – beneficiaries, service users, and the front-line staff and volunteers closest to these people.

We’re inviting charities to submit questions to the journalists they work with about how journalists might like to engage with charities at the moment. 

We would be happy to include questions in the survey at no cost if they are of benefit to the sector generally. If you would like to test questions specific to your charity or non-profit organisation, you can do so at a cost of £500 + VAT per question.

Questions could include: 
- What your target journalists want to hear from your charity right now? 
- Journalists perceptions of your response to Covid-19

Please get in touch with JAAM@nfpsynergy.net if you’d like to submit a question for the benefit of the sector, or specifically for your charity.

You may have seen some of the free research nfpSynergy has conducted in response to the Covid-19 outbreak over the past few weeks:

  • Surveying a representative sample of the general public in Great Britain to gauge their attitudes towards charities in the context of Covid-19 (you can view this here)
  • Interviews with 24 charity professionals across a range of roles to gauge how they are coping with and adapting their work in the context of Covid-19 (you can view this here)

Next week, we will be releasing a write up of interviews we have been conducting with Policy and Public Affairs Teams to see what it is like to be working with MPs at the moment. Sign up to our newsletter here to ensure you get it.

[1] Captain Tom Moore's 100th Birthday Walk for the NHS | JustGiving,
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/tomswalkforthenhs [Accessed 21st April 2020]
 

[2] Princess Sofia of Sweden Just Became a Medical Assistant to Help Fight COVID-19 | Vogue, https://www.vogue.com/article/princess-sofia-of-sweden-medical-assistant-to-help-fight-covid-19 [Accessed 21st April 2020]

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