Communications: Charities 'fail to target' black media

Charities are failing to target ethnic minorities effectively in their communications strategies, according to speakers at an NCVO PR forum about how to target the ethnic media last month.

Two weeks ago, a Third Sector survey also revealed that ethnic minorities are seriously under-represented in the leadership of the top 50 fundraising charities.

Matt Wooldridge, media and public affairs officer at the Commission for Racial Equality, who spoke at the forum, told Third Sector: "It's the story that counts - the fact that a black or Asian person is involved is not enough.

"At the same time, there would be no point in me trying to sell a story about Asian people being stopped and searched to a magazine that is read by the Afro-Caribbean community."

Wooldridge believes that although many charities are failing to target the ethnic media, it is not because of an unwillingness to do so, but out of fear. "Some charities seem to be scared of approaching the ethnic media because they are afraid of saying the wrong thing," he says. "But they just need to get on with it."

Vic Motune, deputy editor of The Voice, who also spoke at the event, feels that charities need to tailor their pitches to publications.

He says: "I took a couple of charity stories we have covered along to the event, one from the Blood Pressure Association and one from the Prostate Cancer Charity.

"They both dealt with health issues of concern to Afro-Caribbeans, but they had also both taken the time to sit down and analyse what we are about - so they knew exactly how to target us."

Charities also need to think more carefully about how they write press releases, says Motune.

"Some are quite cumbersome, and you don't find out what the story is until the fourth paragraph," he says. "A good press release is written like a news story and presents the information in a clear manner.

"Charities forget that journalists are experts in a particular subject for a day at most, before moving on to the next story."

But Motune concedes that charities are not entirely to blame. He says: "We have changed over the years and no longer look exclusively at 'black' stories - our main concern now is diversity."

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