This is what it's like to manage iNGO communications during a media frenzy

By Kelli Rogers 22 September 2015

A Leica digital camera. How can iNGO communications teams make best use of media attention? Photo by: David Yu / CC BY-NC-ND

In early September, an image of a drowned Syrian boy on the coast of Turkey circulated around the world, giving way to a media frenzy about a crisis that is by no means news to the 11 million Syrians who are displaced or have already fled their country, the aid workers at the borders — or the communications professionals who have been trying to get the word out about the protracted refugee crisis for years.  

It’s the tough job of iNGO communications teams to “find a way to get people to care about something that seems distant and not urgent and ongoing and unsolvable,” said Laura Blank, international news director for World Vision, which has worked with nearly 2 million children and adults in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq by providing food, clean water, education and health care.

So what’s it like when an issue you work tirelessly to communicate is suddenly, finally, front page news? And where do you go from there? Blank and colleague Amy Parodi, World Vision’s media relations director, explain.

Laura, you get very close to the causes that you work to communicate for years. What’s been so tough about the Syria response?

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About the author

Kelli Rogers@kellierin

In her role as associate editor, Kelli Rogers helps to shape Devex content around leadership, professional growth and careers for professionals in international development, humanitarian aid and global health. As the manager of Doing Good, one of Devex's highest-circulation publications, she is constantly on the lookout for the latest staffing changes, hiring trends and tricks for recruiting skilled local and international staff for aid projects that make a difference. Kelli has studied or worked in Spain, Costa Rica and Kenya.

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