A typical week in communications at Sightsavers charity…
Monday – It’s a real team effort to get the daily news briefing out by 10am. The weekend edition of the papers are much bigger than the daily ones so there is a lot to read. The five of us that make up the press team each take a few new papers and also decide which online news websites we will explore. Then we compile the stories into one document that we email out to all staff.
We look for stories to list in the following categories:
- Sightsavers in the news
- International Development
- Global Health
- Inclusive Education
- Corporate Partners
The most interesting stories I read today were; the Guardian Selfies article which covers the social media fundraising phenomenon that raised over £2 million for cancer research. And I also found this Huffington Post Blog interesting by the Chief Exec of Wateraid. “Is aid really making the world fairer?” Discussing access to clean water. Lastly, sport relief has raised £53,370,743 so far over this weekend beating the amount raised last year!
Tuesday – After working on today’s daily news we had a creative meeting. There was a
communications brief to read before hand. The meeting was held so the team could suggest their ideas for publicising some new sunglasses designed by Byrogue. We are targeting a new audience. Sightsavers will receive a donation of just over £10 from each pair of sunglasses sold. The designer wants the money to go towards eliminating river blindness (onchocerciasis).
I learnt a lot more about river blindness. Around 37 million people are currently infected with it, and roughly 300,000 of them are already irreversibly blind. Sightsavers distribute a preventative drug called Mectizan® to people at risk from riverblindness. Entire communities need to take the drug. This equates to huge numbers of people, many of whom are not easily accessible.
Sightsavers research shows that the most effective way of reaching as many people as possible is to train up volunteers from the community to manage these drug distributions. Local volunteers can keep records to ensure everyone is taking it. This also empowers people to take ownership for their own health issues. Because of the importance of the whole community being reached, there are often awareness raising events with songs, dancing and drama performances.
Wednesday – Yesterday my blog was featured on the University’s school of global studies blog and my press release got coverage!
Today I am researching potential celebrity ambassadors. Kelly Gallagher who is a visually impaired paralympian, and is a gold medal winner for alpine skiing, would be a great person to contact about the Sightsavers campaign. The campaign is calling on the UK government to include people with disabilities in their programmes for international development. Kelly seems passionate about inclusion, in a recent interview she said this,
“At home, I didn’t feel any different from any other child. And I’m really delighted that my mum enrolled me in a mainstream school, but it was a struggle to be and look different, with my really thick glasses, squinting in the sun.
“At the Paralympics you see so many people with interesting stories and you realise how everyone has their own unique story. So disability isn’t really separate, there aren’t able bodied and disabled people – it’s just that everyone’s experiencing life in a different way.”
Thursday – Sightsavers are launching a campaign on World Sight Day in October. In preparation for this we have been calling editors at magazines which aim at our target audience. Now we have a media partnership secured (with a readership of over 400,000) we can apply to the UK government’s Department for International Development for match funding.
Friday – Lorraine Kelly will be representing Sightsavers for the Radio 4 appeal this Sunday. Read more here.