The study, which involved 102 national and local journalists bolstered by 12 in-depth interviews, found that national charities were often "remote" and too "London-centric".
As part of the research, which was conducted by not-for-profit think-tank nfpSynergy, a league of effectiveness of charities was compiled called the Charity Media Monitor.
In the study, local journalists attacked many national organisations.
One journalist said: "I'm bored of saying I need local case studies. It's deeply frustrating. We can't do the stories without them, and the charities are the only people that have the contacts."
Joe Saxton, director of nfp-Synergy, said: "It's surprising that large charities are not better equipped given their resources. Small charities have a competitive advantage as they know what's been in the local press and can deliver locally."
He added: "It's the difference between carpet bombing the media and a precision strike."
The study found that charities are considered a good source of information and stories and that those that responded quickly were remembered in a good light.
Journalists considered verbal communication to be stronger than written, while email and post are preferred over fax.
According to the Media Monitor study, the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association was regarded as having the most-effective media team. This is despite having just a three-strong media team. Its Shades for a Day event was also one of the most recalled campaigns.
Guide Dogs' head of communications Robin Hutchinson said the findings were down to the spirit and energy of the team.