Top tips for pitching climate change adaptation stories to the media

You have a great project and a pressing problem – but the media’s not interested. Why? You’re speaking the wrong language and the editor can’t hear you. When climate change practitioners pitch stories to the media they need to pretend they’re living in a foreign country and speak a different language, the language of stories. And your currency is news advised Mike Shanahan, the press officer at IIED. If what you're saying was true yesterday, it’s not news.

Suzanne Fisher's picture
Blog by
19 April 2012

Mike’s advice was shared as part of a Dragon’s Den session, where practitioners at the conference worked in groups to come up with a story and pitch it to two journalists as part of the 6th International Conference on Community-based Adaptation to Climate Change. They were given 3 minutes to pitch their ideas and then had them judged.

What’s needed at the centre of that story, they advised, was a story about someone with a “good character." They should be people readers can connect with and who are generally representative of the community being talked about.

Here are some short interviews with each of them sharing their top tips.


Imelda Abaño, of the Philippine Network of Environmental Journalists

Kate Sheppard, Environmental reporter with Mother Jones

Mike Shanahan, Press officer at IIED

Across countries and cultures there are three issues people can connect with. Shanahan said readers want to know:

  • is this going to make me rich or poor?
  • is this going to affect my health?
  • is this going to affect my children?

Put a strong character at the heart of your story, and answer those questions and you’re off with a fighting chance.

Look at our live feed with the latest from the 6th International Conference on Community-based adaptation to climate change

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