RSPCA tops NGO Watch as news refocuses post-war

The RSPCA has topped this month’s NGO Watch - which measures the effectiveness of charities’ media relations - after performing well in the post-Iraq war news agenda.

While human rights groups involved in humanitarian efforts in Iraq continue to gain mentions, the first-place position of the RSPCA has highlighted a clear desire among mainstream news editors to return to a more domestic agenda post-war.

Following the RSPCA in the table, which is based on mainstream UK print and online media mentions between 26 April and 22 May, were aid agencies UNICEF, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

Coverage gained by the animal charity includes a number of mentions for its involvement in a story of a hungry ferret that caused chaos on a commuter train, along with its annual report, which reported a rise in violent crimes against animals. This also revealed the emergence of ‘squish videos’ featuring animals being slowly crushed to death.

However, a number of mentions in the regional press were less than favourable, as they focused on the financial plight of the charity caused by a slump in stock market investments and possible centre closures.

The national media, however, has largely ignored this angle, according to Rasila Kuntawala, a researcher at NGO Watch compilers Infoniq.

National news editors also failed to pick up on reports in PRWeek’s sister publication, Third Sector of wranglings among senior managers.

RSPCA director of communications John Rolls said: ‘The financial situation is something that is affecting a number of charities. I think national news editors think it’s a non-story.’

Humanitarian efforts are set to continue leading the agenda in the next NGO Watch, particularly as Live Aid organiser Bob Geldof’s high-profile visit to Africa this week will be included.

Rolls suggests that charities involved in animal welfare will also continue to do well on the back of recent revelations of poor practice in poultry farming.

Others that performed well in this latest survey include the Salvation Army and Cancer Research UK. The latter’s media relations efforts included a study on OAP smokers.

Infoniq also gives special mention to the Stop the Tour campaign, which objects to human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. The charity gained 37 mentions for its protests against the Zimabawe cricket team’ s UK tour.

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