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Comms 2.0: Why Aid and Development’s use of media needs a reboot

Comms 2.0: Why Aid and Development’s use of media needs a reboot

According to the Institute of Fundraising, 60% of charity websites were ineffective in getting their message across. Poor access to information makes the user less inclined to make a donation. Over the last two decades, use of the internet as a means of communication has overtaken other media. Yet it seems that adequately addressing the point in this digital age to donors and other stakeholders needs a rethink.

In spite of their philanthropic intentions, charities and aid agencies are not beyond reproach. Good public relations, combined with a solid communications strategy, are absolutely essential in these days where a single word picked up by the press can extinguish an agency’s reputation. Earlier this year, the Chief Executive of the UK’s National Bullying Helpline resigned after reported allegations that members of parliament had called the charity detailing maltreatment in the Prime Minister’s office. Although names were not revealed, this was not only a breach of confidentiality but also a PR disaster for the charity.

In light of occurrences such as these, there will be a workshop entitled Communication Strategies for Aid and Development Organizations. This will take place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Thursday July 22 as part of the Aid and International Development Forum. Speakers include Ben Barber, Senior Writer and Editorial Director of Frontlines, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); Nathalie Applewhite, Managing Director, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting; Christina Ragsdale, Head of Communications at Sacramento Air Quality Management District and Peter Goldstein, Director of communications and digital media at AudienceScapes. The session will be moderated by Lawrence Ott, Director of Communications at Casals & Associates.

Peter Goldstein will present AudienceScapes, a communication resource for development run by InterMedia and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Peter will show how the research program in Africa can help development practitioners to plan and implement more effective communication activities.

Christina Ragsdale will discuss the dimensions of Reputation Management, Transparency, Accountability and Outcomes, Environmental Justice, Organizational Assessment & Development and Capacity Building. For-profit or Not-for-profit organizations that ignore these issues do so now at their own peril.
Ben Barber will stress the need to prevent in-sector jargon from alienating mass audiences in the communications process. Building constituencies at home for spending tax funds as well as raising donations requires clear presentation of the facts of aid issues, the emotional impact of such aid or the lack of it, and the clear exposition of how aid will improve lives.

Nathalie Applewhite will present the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting's collaborative multi-media approach to raising awareness of underreported systemic global issues.

Now in its fifth year, this event is a valuable opportunity for the aid, relief and development sector to network, build partnerships and address global humanitarian and development challenges, as well as showcasing goods and services to those who are responsible for delivery.

Registration is free to non-commercial organizations. More information, including the workshop agenda, speaker and exhibitor lists and registration details can be found at

Aid & International Development Forum 2010 partners include InterAction, IPOA, World Bank Publications and RedR UK.

- Ends -

Information for Editors about the Aid & International Development Forum

The Aid & International Development Forum (previously International Aid & Trade) has been the world's leading forum for humanitarian relief professionals to cement relationships, build partnerships, gain understanding and share experiences. Having been acquired by Henley Media Group in 2005, International Aid & Trade ran in Geneva in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In 2009 the event moved to Washington D.C., in partnership with InterAction, the largest coalition of U.S.-based international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

Facts & Figures

There will be over 1600 visitors and in the region of 120 exhibitors, 100 of which will be businesses, 20 of which will be NGOs, UN and Government stands.

For lists of speakers, exhibitors and the workshop agenda, please use the following links:
Workshop Agenda:

Aid and International Development Forum
Walter E. Washington Convention Center
801 Mount Vernon Place Northwest
Washington, DC 20001-3614

Diva Rodriguez, Communications. Email:
Andrew Matthewson, Sales Manager. Email:
Telephone +44 (0) 20 7871 0188

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