Media impact – ‘riding the wave’

‘Riding the wave’ ( this phrase may be perceived as distasteful given certain disaster circumstances but it is media vernacular) of a high profile news story; this is a classic tactic used by interest groups and NGOs seeking prominence in the public domain. Many key news events are known in advance; what we might call ‘diary moments’. Other ‘riding the wave’ moments entail being opportunistic and spotting when your organisation can add something to a prominent story. The list is long. A diary news moment can be an anniversary of a disaster, e.g. five years on from a large-scale natural disaster or the start of a certain conflict. Many organisations will want to mark this moment with media coverage of their brand. So, again, how do you cut through the crowd to gain media impact? There are many tactics you can employ; setting up newsworthy media trips in advance of a news anniversary to your field projects, making sure you have competent spokespersons in key locations in the field etc. Another good tactic is to prepare data and evidence in advance that is new and significant. This may be data that counters the prevailing received wisdom, it might be to show the fresh results of your great field work that has addressed the needs of vulnerable communities, your organisation’s actions and impact in the field….and so on. Good newsworthy preparations enabling your organisation to ‘ride the wave’ of a high profile news story will pay dividends. It is not a good idea to issue statements to news organisations to say something is awful and something must be done about it. This leads us on to ‘rules of engagement’ with the media. More on that later.

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