Author Archives: Liz Sharma

Bioversity International

The Challenge: Agricultural biodiversity, or “agrobiodiversity”, will be essential in helping the world achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. CGIAR’s Bioversity International produced a comprehensive review of the existing evidence on agrobiodiversity which they asked Marchmont Communications to help them launch ahead of an important United Nations conference. The goal was to raise awareness of the importance of preserving crop biodiversity and to drive traffic to the report.

Our Approach: As the report was a literature review, it did not have original findings that could act as the hook for the media outreach. Our strategic idea was to position the report instead within a broader public narrative that we saw emerging in the media around the “sixth mass extinction” of animals (that had mostly focus on the risk of large mammals like elephants and tigers going extinct). We wanted to use the report to reframe that narrative and shine a spotlight on the fact that many crop species are also at threat from the same phenomenon – in other words, to dramatize “the sixth mass extinction of our food supply”.

A launch date was set three weeks ahead of an important United Nations conference where the report would be showcased in person, so that the media coverage would build an online groundswell of interest which could be carried into the event itself. A short media summary of the report was drafted to highlight key takeaways and case studies and appeal to different media desks and regions, and a press release and series of op-eds were drafted along the same insight. 

Outcomes: The resulting effort produced more than 60 pieces of coverage in nine languages, including a slot on Al Jazeera’s news at ten. Three separate articles appeared in The Guardian: the news piece was shared on Facebook more than 11,000 times and also appeared in the print edition; the op-ed was shared more than 4,000 times and received over 300 comments; and a third article appeared as their “top news story” online on launch day. Additional coverage was secured in National Geographic, BBC Radio 4, Reuters and the Financial Times. Bioversity International’s overall web traffic doubled and the book was downloaded over 1,000 times in the first week.

World Bank Group

The Challenge: As the largest and arguably most prominent development bank in the world, the World Bank Group provides financing to developing countries across a wide array of issues. The Group has come to Marchmont for support with various of these initiatives, including branding and launching new programmes, facilitating workshops, conducting stakeholder mappings, and raising the visibility and support for existing activities globally. These include their:

  • Climate Funds Unit
  • Disruptive Agricultural Technologies (DAT) Challenges
  • FoodSystems2030
  • Food Systems, Land Use and Restoration (FOLUR) Impact Programme
  • Global Food Safety Partnership

Our Approach: Every scope of work is first carefully planned to meet the broader goals of the initiative as creatively and efficiently as possible. Marchmont will typically lead a kick-off call after reviewing the existing background materials, querying objectives, audiences, calls-to-action and channels before refining the approach to deliver results worthy of the World Bank’s global profile. We often coordinate in tight timeframes and with teams working across different time zones.

Outcomes: Highlights of media coverage include top-tier outlets like the Economist, the Telegraph, Deutsche Welle, CNBC Africa, Xinhua and the Independent, as well as key specialist and regional media like The East African, Africa Tech and KTN News.

Marchmont also created several new brand identities, logos and related design collateral for various new initiatives: 

Marchmont also oversaw the production of several video assets, including a documentary-style photofilm for the Disruptive Agricultural Technologies (DAT) Challenge in Nairobi (viewable here) and an introductory video for the Global Food Safety Partnership (viewable here).

Danish Red Cross (DRC)

The Challenge: Danish Red Cross wanted to promote to the media the concept of a blockchain-based currency as a potential alternative to direct cash transfers for humanitarian aid. They were launching a pilot programme in Kenya involving multiple partners, followed by a second phase of scale-up across other Kenyan communities.

Our Approach: During the initial planning process, Marchmont identified the different target audiences and segmented messages for  different media outlets accordingly, from the humanitarian and development fields to specialist technology and finance outlets. To achieve cut-through, the messaging prioritised both the potential benefits of the alternative currency for building resilience among vulnerable communities (to resonate with development and humanitarian donors) and also its agility and efficiency during emergencies or shocks like the Covid-19 pandemic (to appeal to the wider news agenda).

Outcomes: In total, the pilot received almost 70 pieces of coverage across global and specialist media, including articles from the Reuters newswire, Forbes, National Post, AllAfricaAsia Blockchain Review, This is Money, the Fintech Times, and Coin Telegraph, as well as  thought leadership in City AM and Business Fights Poverty, and a field report from Voice of America.

Global Resilience Partnership (GRP)

The Challenge: The Global Resilience Partnership was seeking to raise understanding and visibility for the role of resilience in tackling global development issues over the long term. More specifically they wanted to leverage the work of their global network of 38 Challenge winners – from a series of competitions hosted by GRP to find innovative, scalable solutions – all working on different aspects of resilience across the Sahel and Horn of Africa and in Southeast Asia.

Our Approach: Marchmont delivered a comprehensive support package designed to make the complex, abstract concept of “resilience” come to life – in other words, to make it personal, tangible and urgent. This included an initial landscape analysis, which informed the communications planning. Marchmont created a detailed editorial calendar to identify opportunities for proactive media outreach on behalf of the Challenge winners. We also organised several media field visits of their work on the ground. Marchmont also ran communications workshops and strategic planning sessions to build capacity amongst Challenge winners so they could amplify their work in-house more effectively.

Outcomes: Marchmont secured a range of top-tier and specialist media coverage of GRP and its Challenge winners over a two-year period, including multiple articles from Reuters, The Telegraph, BBC, Voice of America, El Pais, Xinhua, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Devex, The Conversation, Quartz Africa, World Economic Forum, AllAfrica, CGTN Africa, USAID Climate Links, Inter Press Service, Zilient and Mongabay. Marchmont also managed the production of two documentary-style thematic videos on Challenge winners’ impact on the ground – one focusing on innovative financial products in rural Kenya and a second on flood resilient homes in Vietnam and Bangladesh – and helped promote an Investor Forum designed to attract additional funding to the Challenge winners.

nextProtein

The Challenge: When French-Tunisian start-up nextProtein successfully secured their series A funding, they wanted to use it as an opportunity to highlight the growth potential and sustainability of their insect-based protein to a broader international audience.

Our Approach: Marchmont worked with nextProtein to identify angles that would help elevate the pitch beyond the investment announcement and position the company both around its cutting-edge technology and its corporate ethos. This also included identifying opportunities to frame the announcement in the wider context of the EU’s Farm to Fork policy.

Outcomes: The media outreach resulted in widespread coverage both in top-tier and specialist/trade media, in both English and French, which was further amplified  across social media. Highlights included coverage from Agence France Presse (AFP), Quartz Africa, Crunchbase, Les Echos, and AgFunderNews.

Inclusive Business Action Network (iBAN)

The Challenge: The Inclusive Business Action Network (iBAN) wanted to raise wider visibility for, and drive traffic to, its new online platform and bi-monthly magazine ‘CLUED-iN’. This included targeting entrepreneurs, social enterprise leaders and other key stakeholders engaged in inclusive business development.

Our Approach: Marchmont provides ongoing outreach support via both traditional media and social media. For the former, this includes distributing media alerts and drafting and placing opinion pieces with relevant specialist media outlets. For the latter, it includes creating e-bulletins, social media toolkits and graphics cards for social media dissemination, both via iBAN and the magazine’s contributors as well as iBAN’s wider networks. During the launch period, Marchmont also manages iBAN’s Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.

Outcomes: Each round of Marchmont’s social media activity helps iBAN reach an average of 341K users on Twitter, and has led to a 50 per cent increase in iBAN profile visits and more than tripling its number of new followers. Marchmont has also secured coverage around iBAN’s online platform launches from Next Billion, DevDiscourse, Business Green, Pioneers Post, Business Fights Poverty, International Agri-Food Network and Endeva.

International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

The Challenge: Maize, beans and bananas are essential components of African diets and livelihoods, and are under extreme threat from climate change. A major study from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), published in Nature Climate Change, provided for the first time a timeline for action to preserve food security, detailing exactly when agricultural regions across Africa will need to transform. CIAT approached Marchmont to deliver a communications campaign to amplify the key messages of the report and offer practical advice to policymakers and donors on how to take action.

Our Approach: Marchmont first distilled the key messages of the study into a two-page media summary and press release. We positioned the story against the backdrop of the El-Niño induced drought that was affecting large areas in Southern and Eastern Africa at the time, asking journalists: Is El Niño the tip of the iceberg for African farmers? In addition, Marchmont created a series of animated GIFs for sharing on social media, which extracted the key takeaways from the study in a visually engaging way.

Outcomes: Our media campaign generated 71 pieces of coverage, including The Guardian, BBC, Reuters and Agence France Presse. Three opinion pieces were placed in the media (Reuters, Financial Times and the AllAfrica newswire) focussing on different aspects of the study. Environmental thought leader Al Gore even shared a piece we placed in National Geographic on Twitter, calling the research “eye-opening”.

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