An active media engagement strategy on migration issues to influence perceptions of migrants.
The Bulgarian Red Cross has an active engagement strategy with the media on issues of asylum and migration. The aim of the strategy is to improve public attitudes to migrants. Members of the media are invited for regular briefings and are sensitized to the language they use. For example, journalists are encouraged not to conflate refugees with asylum seekers, or migrants with criminals. Additionally, the Bulgarian Red Cross works to bring media exposure to the real stories of all types of migrants who have integrated in Bulgarian communities. This aims to promote a positive narrative of migrants and combat the negative narratives of right-wing parties. Media representatives are invited to activities involving all types of migrants so that media reports can be broadcast. Migrants are trained by Red Cross staff on how to effectively communicate with the media to portray their personalities and stories compellingly. The Red Cross also sends a press release to the media on every event that concerns migrants. Moreover, regional branches inform their respective local media about migration-related events and activities. The media has responded positively to the level of engagement of the Bulgarian Red Cross, and regularly consults it and the opinions of staff on asylum and migration issues.
The New Zealand Red Cross similarly engages the media to portray positive stories on migrants and encourages the use of language that is empowering to migrants. For example, they have sensitized the media to stop referring to resettled individuals as refugees.
Coverage depends heavily on the domestic and Europe-wide context. It usually ranges between 3 and 15 stories a month. Coverage is heavier when migration is in the headlines.
Design. [P1] Focuses on reducing the vulnerability of all vulnerable migrants to xenophobia that results from negatively biased media coverage.
Implementation. [P6] Building partnerships with the media.
- Balancing coverage of migrant activities with information and media coverage of activities and events involving Bulgarian citizens.
- Dealing with the accusation that the National Society helps migrants more than locals.
- Preparing in-house experts to make statements, and preparing the leadership before making statements.
- It is key to ensure that information sent to the media adheres to the Fundamental Principles, notably to prevent any perception of bias.
Smart practices report and database survey
About the report
People migrate in pursuit of a better life for themselves and their families. As described in the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ (IFRC) Policy on Migration, “migrants are persons who leave or flee their habitual residence to go to new places – usually abroad – to seek opportunities or safer and better prospects.