Charities frequently fret about how to get stories about their work into the media and ensure that any coverage accurately reflects the lives of their beneficiaries. But a new partnership between international children's charity Plan UK and teen magazine Bliss has been established to reconcile charities' desire for serious and considered exposure of their work with the media's need for interesting and exclusive stories.
The partnership involves a series of feature articles in the monthly magazine for teenage girls, looking at the challenges facing girls around the world. The articles will examine life for girls in the world's poorest regions and compare their experiences with those of girls in the UK.
Plan provides the source material, based on projects the charity runs in 49 countries and its own research. The first feature, published in October, looked at the problem of forced marriage. According to UN statistics, about 100 million girls worldwide will marry before the age of 12 in the next decade.
Sandra Brobbey, media and communications officer at Plan, says: "To have Bliss on board is a fantastic opportunity because it is one of Britain's most popular magazines for teenage girls."
The partnership is also important for Bliss. "Plan UK approached us and we thought it was an excellent campaign, matching our aim of empowering teen girls," says Angeli Milburn, assistant editor of Bliss. "Through the partnership, we get access to features we wouldn't otherwise be able to run because of time and budget restrictions. We simply don't have the resources to go and interview girls in other parts of the world."
The partnership is not the magazine's only editorial relationship with a charity. It ran a similar campaign with World Vision last year, has an existing partnership with Women's Aid and has collaborated on a recent feature with Christian Aid.
The Bliss partnership is part of Plan's eight-year global campaign for girls' rights, Because I Am A Girl, which was launched in May last year. The campaign was set up after a huge study on the lives of girls around the world highlighted issues such as foeticide (the deliberate killing of a foetus, often by a kick to the stomach), access to education, female mortality and health and malnutrition.
The partnership with Bliss is also intended to engage the magazine's readers with the campaign. Readers will be encouraged to sign up to the Bliss Because I Am A Girl manifesto. They will also be asked to make a pledge of support for the campaign on Plan's website.
According to Milburn, media partnerships can help charities get their messages across more effectively. "Communication is key," she says. "We've found it really useful to talk to charities to find out exactly what they want and to explain what we need in order to make the features work for us."