Treading a bold path with charity P.R.

In today’s clamour of messages and general information overload, it can be hard to get noticed.

It certainly can be a challenge for charities, as there seem to be more than ever competing for the public’s time, attention, and – if they are seeking donations – financial support. So, how then to stand out?

I would advocate taking a bold communications approach, using  some simple messages that truly resound with what your organisation is all about. Sounds easy, but with plenty of organisations competing for the media spotlight, you really need to avoid all jargon and look at your organisation from an outsider’s point of view.

If you can offer real life stories about people who have benefited from your organisation’s work, all the better, but do be mindful of the needs of those who are acting as ‘case studies’.

The media is always looking for emotive stories, and the reality is that messages need to be fairly hard-hitting and/or direct to attract coverage.

I’m about to start on another round of publicity for the Albinism Fellowship, a charity I support with my wife, who is also a trustee.

During the summer, I helped hone the message for the Albinism Fellowship’s main campaign week, Albinism Awareness Week, which became a plea for people to judge those living with albinism for who they are, rather than their physical appearance (which usually attracts the most initial comment, giving the striking eye and hair colour).

We even included some criticism of Hollywood’s usual stereotyping of people with albinism in it through casting (note how people with albinism often seem to be the default ‘bad guys?’ The Da Vinci Code is one blockbuster example, and more recently there was an ‘albino pirate’ in children’s film The Pirates – in an adventure with scientists).

The campaign week therefore became a little more hard-hitting than before, as a result secure coverage in the local media, along with articles around the same time in The Guardian weekend section and Scottish Daily Mail.

It all goes to show that being bold pays off. It’s not without its risks, but neither is crossing the road. Worth a try?

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