Making Headlines – A New Look for IOM’s Press Notes

By Joe Lowry

IOM’s Press Briefing Notes go to over 100,000 subscribers around the world – including missions, governments, embassies, media, donors, academia, civil society organizations and individuals. They are launched online on Tuesdays and Fridays, as well as at the UN Palais des Nations in Geneva, where our spokesperson directly briefs the international press on IOM’s recent, high-profile activities.

While the notes serve as a way of informing our donors how we are spending their money, they are not our primary accountability tool. Their main function is to profile IOM and to gain media coverage of our activities, to increase our leverage and advocacy, to assist in fundraising, and to inform all our interlocutors, including our beneficiaries, of what we are doing and why we are a reputable, trustworthy organization, and the lead agency on global migration.

The media marketplace is increasingly crowded, and in order to be noticed we have to stand out. The way we present our press notes has not changed much since the era of the fax machine and we urgently need to have a format which presents our news in the most media-friendly manner, whilst at the same time allowing us to cover smaller stories of limited interest and give them appropriate billing.

The new format, which will be debuted today, will ensure that our big news stories (our role in assisting in rescues of migrants in the Mediterranean, highlighting the slaughter in Nigeria, calling for fresh thinking in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, new assistance to displaced persons in Syria, our role in post-disaster operations and so on) will be seen first by the media at the earliest possible stage in the news cycle. It will also provide hyperlinks to all the stories, to new videos, and to our social media platforms.

We encourage all Chiefs of Mission to think about how run-of-the-mill stories (training workshops, new funding allocations, human interest stories) can be marketed to highlight the issue behind the story. If you want to report on an anti-trafficking workshop, bear in mind that dozens of organizations are holding similar workshops across the globe every day. Why would the media pick up on yours? Is there a new statistic that highlights the disproportionate gender impact? Have traffickers found new routes to new markets? Is there a human interest story that will immediately catch the attention of the local, regional or world press? These are the tactics we need to use if we are going to rise above the chatter.

Please feel free to discuss your media strategies with any member of the Media & Communications Division (media@iom.int).