On Tuesday, we held a Focus Call on ‘Responding to the aid backlash: how to get your views heard in the media’. A recording of the call is now available to download here.
In the first part of the call we heard how some sections of the UK media have been responding negatively to the fact that the aid budget was protected in the recent Comprehensive Spending Review and discussed some of the reasons why advocates for the end of extreme poverty might want to use the media help to counter some of these arguments.
Participants on the call agreed that whilst it is impossible to convince everyone of the importance of maintaining the UK’s support for international development, it is crucial that decision-makers know that there is public support for the decision to protect the aid budget. Another purpose of this kind of media action is to demonstrate positive examples of how aid is working and transforming lives. It was proposed that personal stories are a really effective way of showing the impact of aid.
Our guest speaker Jove Oliver gave lots of really helpful examples of the different types of media channels that RESULTS volunteers used to make their views heard:
- Editorials – you can suggest ideas for comment pieces to the editor of your local paper
- Articles – pitched to a journalist, these usually have to be pegged to a recent, topical issue
- Letters to the editor – responding to articles and opinion pieces
- Op-eds (stands for ‘opposite the editorials’) – opinion pieces authored by you or someone in your community
- Blog posts and comments – either written by you or pitched to an online blogger
- Radio and television – put yourself or someone in your community forward to be interviewed or call in to a radio show to air your views
Jove noted that the easiest types of media to target are local newspapers, local radio and blogs and other forms of social media. He pointed out that with many budgets being cut and fewer staff, newspapers and other media outlets are always looking for content.
Participants on the call also added that we should also explore faith publications and other forms of ‘non-mainstream’ media, particularly those targeted at young audiences, as another effective channels for reaching the public and decision-makers.
If there are no obvious ‘hooks’ for letters, comments or articles, Jove encouraged RESULTS volunteers to think creatively about other local and topical issues that are being covered in the media and how to tie our issues to those.
In the remainder of the call participants had an in-depth discussion about the different types of negative messages and opinion about overseas aid that regularly appear in the media and different ways to respond or counter them. For those unable to participate on the night, the call is useful preparation for our upcoming action in December where we’ll be using the media to tell positive stories about the progress made in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Click here to listen to the recording.