humanitarian comms

How to tell development stories – Bill Clinton at LSE

If all those books about political communications are to be believed then it should be easy to be as effective as Bill Clinton with the help of some speech writers, spin doctors and image consultants. Yet what is remarkable is how few politicians master the art of effortless, instinctive, impactful (sorry Robert Jay) speech.

July 11th, 2012|Development|1 Comment|

Why I think the Kony 2012 Campaign Is Wrong

I think the Kony12 campaign is wrong. It is wrong in content, tactics, strategy, ethics and politics. The Invisible Children organisation may well be doing some good work in East Africa, but this media effort is wrong. And it’s not just the wrong means to a good end, it’s a negative in itself. They should stop it or change it. […]


Who Is To Blame When Africa Starves: media, governments or NGOs?

A report from Oxfam and Save The Children on the East African food crisis shows that thousands of lives could have been saved if aid organisations had acted earlier. This was not a sudden disaster and yet not enough was done to prevent it escalating: Early signs of an oncoming food crisis were clear many months before the emergency reached […]


Four steps to success in a humanitarian appeal

Some people are exhausted by messages they receive from humanitarian NGOs. Many have become desensitized to images of distant suffering and repeated appeals for help. But, ultimately, people want to do good. So what can humanitarian NGOs do to better open the public’s hearts, minds—and pockets? Polis hosted a panel debate on this topic at LSE in partnership with Plan […]

November 15th, 2011|Development|2 Comments|

Connecting communities, connecting people: social media and humanitarian campaigns (guest blog)

What difference does social media make to a global campaign on a vast issue like HIV/Aids? Polis intern Wanda O’Brien reports on the latest Polis Media Agenda Talk. “Every minute a child is born with HIV.” How does that statement connect to YouTube? By 2015 The Global Fund is working to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV to create an HIV […]


Who Cares? Polis panel debate on public perceptions of humanitarian aid

In a world of disasters and suffering brought to your living room every night or to your laptop every second, who cares? When you see an advert by Action Aid or a leaflet from Oxfam what you do? How do you react when Angelina Jolie or Bono asks for your money or attention for starving children in Africa? We […]

November 2nd, 2011|Development, Media|1 Comment|

A Virtual Civil Society?

If you walk down the corridors of most development organisations you will see the words ‘civil society’ on many of the name-plates screwed to the office doors. Comforting words engraved on nice solid plaques. But what does it mean? This is not an academic debate. I used to think that civil society meant all the non-commercial, non-governmental organisations that live […]


Europe’s double-standards on freedom for Libya (guest-blog)

The intervention in Libya has been portrayed in Europe as part of Western support for emerging democracies in north Africa and the Middle East. Yet, are there double-standards at work when it comes to dealing with one consequence of political upheaval: refugees? POLIS Silverstone scholar Marco Scalvini has been looking at Libya and Tunisia from an Italian/French perspective.     […]


The worst censor is the self (guest blog)

Censorship is a notoriously difficult thing to measure because of its inherent secretive nature and self-censorship even more so.   While working at one of the larger international organizations in Damascus, Syria, Amanda Nunn was able to glean an insight into how this affects even the most banal articles she wrote for the agency’s website. Having lived and worked in […]


Why don’t people act when they know about suffering? (guest-blog)

Thanks to modern media everyone in Britain knows that there are people suffering from famine, war and deprivation around the world. From Haiti to Australia they are shown the suffering – so why don’t they do anything? “It is striking how little we know about how the public makes sense of humanitarian communication, and what happens in the gap between […]