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.