Why your charitable efforts get ignored by the media

Forever Stars – these guys raised more than £1000 an hour last month

Businesses are increasingly realising that Corporate Social Responsibility, or ‘CSR’ for short, can be a major asset when it comes to positioning positive public relations for their brand.

There are various elements they can weave into their marketing mix around sustainability and ethical practice but the classic tactic that is normally the easiest to implement centres around supporting a charity.

It is laudable and often a cause close to the heart of the business owner or the wider team and can make a major impact, especially on smaller local charities. However, people often ask me why their efforts are ‘ignored’ by the media.

Let me explain why this might happen.

I represent two charities, Forever Stars and Groundwork Greater Nottingham. In order to get their message out I do something that may sound somewhat counterintuitive…

It’s not about YOU

I don’t talk about them.

Actually, let me more precise here, I don’t FOCUS on them as the story. It is a tactic I use for many of my professional services clients too.

The story is rarely about them, it is about who they are advising.

Consider this with a charity. The story is not about the charity, it is about who they are helping.

You need to find the human element in your story. Or indeed the animal but you get my drift.

You are Spielberg NOT Cruise – tell the story

Far too many charity angles begin with ‘Acme Corp, which is committed to XYZ causes and sustainable business jargon has raised some funds for Laudable Cause’.

This is well-intentioned BUT it is focusing on the ‘good egg’ factor too much. Instead, it should be ‘Laudable Cause receives funding boost thanks to Acme Corp’.

Then we tend to hear all about Acme Corp but very little about Laudable Cause. This is where it all falls down. The story needs to focus on the beneficiaries and how their life changes, not tick marketing message and CSR boxes.

I cannot possibly go into each and every case here but here’s some more hints and tips as to why your charitable efforts may not be making headlines. 

  1. The cause is not local and you are pitching to local media.
  2. The story is too focused on you
  3. The picture is utterly uninspiring
  4. The amount raised is nothing to really write home about, however hard you all worked
  5. You haven’t explained what difference it will make
  6. The charity isn’t quoted or in the photo

There’s 6 top tips for you but I will leave the 7th to Sam Metcalf, a frequent panelist on my ‘Meet The Journalist’ event I hold each year. You can read more about that here.

‘I don’t want to sound like a complete misanthrope, but if you’re a multinational company then sending me a press release saying you’ve raised £200 for charity is, at best, pretty embarrassing – and at worst actively makes me slightly angry for a few seconds. Charity stories seem wildly popular because of the growing importance of CSR, and I get this, but think for a second; is raising £200 going to look good when the photo of you handing the comedy cheque over is taken in front of your new sports car parked outside your swanky offices?’

Harsh but fair but context is everything.

I hope that helps.

If you want to ensure your charitable efforts hit the headlines, give me a bell and I’ll do what I can to point you in the right direction.