Humanitarian work is challenging, complicated, and complex — and capturing those complexities for an external audience is a challenge in itself. For humanitarian communicators, it’s an opportunity to reach donors, policymakers, and the media, and to give them a chance to engage.
More and more humanitarian organizations are pivoting to a focus on individual stories, relatable entry points and, in some cases, more unfiltered and raw content from the frontlines.
A key driver of this trend is technology such as social media and video streaming. “Technology allows you the ability to bring these situations to people in an intimate way on their phones and computers,” said Erin Taylor, director of communications for humanitarian response at Save the Children. People respond and engage with more direct and personal content. It’s not uncommon for organizations to open a real time video stream from emergency response centers, refugee camps, or search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean sea.
In the days following the Lombok earthquake, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) report that an unfiltered cell phone video uploaded in the first hours of the earthquake outperformed all other content on their feeds.
“There’s a sense that people are becoming cynical to highly polished and produced pieces of content,” Matthew Cochrane, media and advocacy manager and spokesperson at the IFRC, said. “There’s a real interest in authentic, ‘rougher’ content [of] what’s actually happening on the background.”