Research Shows Charities are Struggling to Generate Good Coverage



  • 38% of 125 charity PRs said journalists aren’t interested in their stories
  • New book bridges the gap between journalists and charities

Charities need to be able to respond to media requests quickly, relinquish control of the message and think more like journalists if they are to secure more and better media coverage, says Becky Slack, author of a new book, Effective Media Relations for Charities: What journalists want and how to deliver it.

As part of the book launch on Tuesday, charity sector leaders were joined by a panel of national journalists from The Independent, the Metro Online and Trinity Mirror to learn more about what the media looks for in a story and how they can work more effectively with them.

Trinity Mirror journalist Keir Mudie made a plea for more charities to send in stories but emphasised the need for a news line, which he said is usually lacking.

“It might be an interesting bit of research or an important survey, but we need a top line to get it into the newspaper,” said Mudie.

He emphasised the role of charities in providing case studies, which he said journalists need to give news a human angle.

Journalists on the panel emphasised the need to think about the audience of the media outlet charities are pitching to, as well as knowing when not to pitch.

“Scan our website, it is easy to see our tone and what stories we are likely to be interested in,” said Ashita Nagesh from The Metro online. “And keep an eye on the news, if there is a big story breaking, wait until it calms down before making contact so your story isn’t lost.”

Independent comment editor Hannah Fearn expressed the need for charity pitches to be well written, relevant to the news agenda and interesting.

“Ninety-nine percent of what we do is pegged to the news agenda,” said Fearn. “Look at what we do and see how it can fit into that. Start a debate, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there or be controversial. Think about how your charity could relate to a news story. Your chief executive should be easily available to comment on events, the broader the range of issues the better, think about more than just your news.”

Vicky Browning, director of CharityComms and event chair identified the top three challenges faced by charity PRs when securing press coverage for their stories as lack of time and resources, journalists not being interested in their stories or only wanting negative ones and not knowing whom to contact to get press coverage.

According to the book’s author, to secure the coverage charities want and need, they first need to understand journalism. “The most successful PR teams are those that think like journalists,” said Slack. “PR should not be an extension of your marketing department. Working with the media is about a genuine opportunity to engage with wider audiences on the issues that matter to charities.

“If charities want coverage they have to work fast. They have to provide journalists with what they want, when they want it and in the format they want it in. If charities want to avoid more negative coverage in the press, they need to communicate how they operate. News is something that is new, shocking or surprising. Charities need to be transparent so the way they work becomes normalised.”

Effective Media Relations for Charities: What journalists want and how to deliver it was authored by Becky Slack, a social affairs journalist, and founder and managing director of Slack Communications. It has been produced in conjunction with CharityComms and is published by Social Partnership Marketing. The launch took place at the offices of Berwin Leighton Paisner in London.


Editor’s notes:

* Effective Media Relations for Charities: What journalists want and how to deliver it was out on 22 March and is available from Social Partnership Marketing at £14 +p&p (paperback) and £12.99 (PDF)

* Speakers at the launch included Becky Slack, author of Effective Media Relations for Charities: What journalists want and how to deliver it, Keir Mudie, political and social affairs correspondent on the Sunday Mirror, Hannah Fearn, editor of Independent Voices at the Independent and Ashita Nagesh, reporter at The Metro.

* Becky Slack has a 20-year career as a media professional, including more than 12 years working within and around the voluntary sector as a journalist and communications professional. You can find out more information about her and her company, Slack Communications, here:

* CharityComms is the membership network for communications professionals working in UK charities. It aims to raise the standards of communications across the sector, to fly the flag for communications as a vital strategic function at the heart of charities, and to connectcommunications professionals through sharing best practice.

* Social Partnership Marketing provides specialist books and reports for the charity sector via its Charity First Series, which offers a range of practical and straightforward guides to charity operations and fundraising.

* For interviews and more information, please contact Olivia McGill at Slack Communications:  and 07850400093