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Celebrating water for life: The International Decade for Action 2005-2015: Previous page | 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13

Work with the media


The media is potentially the most effective tool for communicating a message, but to work with the media you must understand how the media works. Timing is everything and sound bites provide the best messages. Before approaching the media, prepare talking points. The title and opening line of a presentation are important, since they will determine whether you attract the attention of listeners and readers and encourage them to listen/read further. You should be an advocate for Water for Life in general and share credit and visibility with partners.

News reporters will be most interested in information that is newsworthy (i.e. is new, surprising, compelling or has an impact on the public). Make sure the story you wish to present to the media is newsworthy. See box 7.

Box 7: Think about “What makes a story newsworthy?”

  • a newsworthy story interests the intended audience: a personal story linked to a news event is more interesting than dry statistics;
  • a newsworthy story includes only facts and figures that are accurate: every name, date and piece of information should be double-checked with a reliable source.

The news conference

Perhaps the single most effective means of winning media coverage for your World Water Day event is to hold a news conference. See box 8

Box 8: News conference checklist

  • invitation list for the print press, radio, TV and others;
  • call back invited press members to confirm their attendance;
  • check the time and date for any possible conflicts with competing events;
  • media advisory;
  • photo opportunity;
  • prepare a media kit that includes speeches, a press release of the main announcement, biographies, background information, fact sheet, photographs, etc;
  • anticipate possible questions from the media and prepare answers;
  • focus all presentations and answers on a small number (e.g. three) of key messages.

On-site arrangements include renting hotel rooms for event participants, placing name signs on the podium for speakers, and providing audiovisual equipment and refreshments.

Sound bites

  • 1.1 billion people (17% of the global population) lacked access to improved water sources.
  • Over half of the world's population has access to improved water through household connections or yard taps.
  • Of the 1.1 billion without improved water sources, nearly two thirds live in Asia.
  • In sub-Saharan Africa , 42% of the population is still without improved water supply.
  • In order to meet the water supply MDG target, an additional 260 000 people per day up to 2015 should gain access to improved water sources.
  • Between 2002 and 2015, the world's population is expected to increase every year by 74.8 million people.
  • 88% of diarrhoeal disease is attributed to unsafe water supply, inadequate sanitation and hygiene.
  • Improved water supply reduces diarrhoea morbidity between 6% and 25%, if severe outcomes are included.
  • Improved sanitation reduces diarrhoea morbidity by 32%.
  • Hygiene interventions including hygiene education and promotion of hand washing can lead to a reduction of diarrhoeal cases by up to 45%.
  • Improvements in drinking-water quality through household water treatment, such as chlorination at point-of-use, can lead to a reduction of diarrhoea episodes between 35% and 39%.
  • Improper planning of dam and irrigation projects has led to rapid intensification of transmission of malaria and schistosomiasis; for example, in development areas of the Senegal River Basin schistosomiasis prevalence shot up from 0 to 90% in a period of less than 2 years.

News agencies: Don’t neglect them

In addition to newspapers and magazines, you should contact the national news agencies, also known as the wire services. If they put out a dispatch on World Water Day, the story will go out to every newspaper, magazine, radio station and television network in your country.

10 important news media

Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Associated Press (AP)
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
Cable News Network (CNN)
El Pais
International Herald Tribune
Le Monde
Radio France Internationale (RFI)
Spanish News Agency (EFE).

Broadcast media: Communicating in pictures and sound

TV and radio

Hosts and hostesses of talk shows are almost always looking for people to interview on radio and television. So, just call up your local radio station, ask to speak to the executive producer of the show you’re interested in, and suggest someone for an interview (ideally one with charisma and able to articulate the message).

When you have only a few seconds in front of a microphone either for radio or television, you need to use memorable phrases — sound bites — that will stay with your audience long after you have left. The best sound bites get to the heart of the problem without lengthy qualified explanations. Broadcast producers cannot resist them, and listeners and viewers remember them. The sound bite should capture and communicate the one key message you want to leave with the audience, if they remember nothing else. Try to repeat the sound bite in different way to reinforce the message during an interview with the media.

Make a splash on World Water Day!

50 ways of celebrating and promoting the Day and the Decade

  • Organize “Save our Water” concert
  • Produce advertising spots on television
  • Create banners with a strong message for WWD
  • Produce booklets and brochures on the theme
  • Call for donations in newspapers
  • Organize children’s drawing competition
  • Prepare comic strip books about WWD
  • Place commemorative advertisements in newspapers
  • Sell commemorative mugs or glasses to be sold
  • Compile a song book with a water theme
  • Create and distribute CD-ROMS
  • Create water and health greeting cards
  • Produce drama groups perform plays on WWD
  • Produce film shows on water and health
  • Design flags promoting the day in your city
  • Distribute flyers highlighting the day
  • Lobby for government statements
  • Organize information events at workplaces
  • Involve medical students in research
  • Sponsor a journalist award for the best article written on water and health
  • Make a compilation of your committee's favourite songs on water
  • Organize marathon runs with entry fees and sponsorship
  • Plan and promote media workshops for journalists
  • Produce music videos
  • Prepare new book releases
  • Encourage North–South Cooperation
  • Organize performances by musicians and artists to raise money or awareness
  • Organize photo competitions
  • Organize picture exhibitions on issues of water
  • Produce pins and stickers to be distributed among the community to promote the day
  • Print postcards and send them to members of parliament
  • Organize poster exhibitions in banks, schools, civic centres
  • Prepare a documentary
  • Produce public service announcement on radio
  • Produce public service announcements on TV
  • Publicize WWD through a “blue and white” party
  • Perform role plays on Water for Life issues written and performed by students
  • Organize round-table talks on a specific them related to water
  • Run a quiz on water with sponsored prizes
  • Plan scientific conferences
  • Organize slogan competitions
  • Create stamps on Water for Life
  • Sponsor a film
  • Produce stickers with WWD slogan
  • Organize swimming competitions to promote the event
  • Offer a University lecture on Water for Life
  • Promote and create web sites with information about WWD.
  • Produce bookmarks
  • Promote the Water for Life for the next 10 years
  • Evaluate progress continually.

Celebrating water for life: The International Decade for Action 2005-2015: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13 | Next page


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