Master's thesis: Aid in Action

NGOs and their use of journalistic digital narratives
in public relations


The interaction between the traditional media and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) continues to evolve and take on new forms that go beyond the known public relations efforts. This master thesis project, drawing on three case study interviews with communications and public relations executives working inside distinctive European NGOs – the Swiss Red Cross (SRC), Public Eye and Greenpeace UK –, analyses how NGO public relations strategies have changed from being merely providing information to being boundary competitors by producing state-of-the-art multimedia journalism increasingly used to bypass the media filter.

While the case study NGOs perceive themselves as advocates and not journalists, they have internalised journalistic workflows and methods and are guided by them in their media production process. As the study shows, this can partly be explained by factors of increased competition, resources and professionalisation of the NGOs – on the other hand, evolutions in the media sphere increasingly cause NGOs to abide by technological innovations and media trends in order not to fall behind, and it is the very journalistic storytelling approach that the NGOs see fit to do so.