8. Communications and Media

See Key Resources and Annexes at the bottom of this page

CARE International’s aim in a humanitarian emergency is to be first in the media, and gain a meaningful share of the voice amongst INGOs talking about the issue in order to raise awareness and funds for CARE’s emergency responses across the globe.

When communicating about a disaster and our response, it is important to bear in mind the four basic principles of our emergency communications. These are:

Do No Harm

This should be our governing principle. Press releases and other communications regarding our emergency response should reflect the views of all members of CARE International, especially those responding directly to the emergency.

Focus on women and girls

In particular, CARE’s emergency communications work should support CARE’s unique differentiator, which is to elevate ‘women’s participation and leadership’, in our messaging. This can be done by positioning female spokespeople, by including quotes from female programme participants and/or by highlighting the specific needs of women and girls in an emergency. We want to raise the voice of women leaders around the world, and emphasise how and why women are best placed to respond to breaking and longer term emergencies.

Speak with one voice

When members of CARE International can find common ground on issues of interest to the media, we become a much stronger voice for women, girls and all those affected by humanitarian crises. At the same time, we want to ensure that we remain flexible and that each member is able to speak out as it sees fit, provided it does no harm and follows the broader CARE International global guidelines as set out in the CARE International Communications Handbook.

Promoting local partners

CARE works with many local partners across the world who are often the ones at the frontline of the response. Where possible, CARE staff should aim to showcase their work, properly name and credit them and include them as spokespeople and authors of quotes for global media. This is particularly important where the organisations are locally-led women’s organisations.

Roles and responsibilities

Follow-the-sun protocol

Protracted emergencies vs rapid onset

Being prepared for an emergency is critical. An emergency is not the time for educating staff about media work! Below are some basic tips for being prepared to handle media in emergencies.


What to share: when and how

Critical first steps in emergency media management: what to do and when

Deploying communications staff

CARE’s communications work in emergencies relies on strong human content shared in a regular and timely manner by CARE staff on the ground and CARE communicators. This content is used for CARE fundraising, social media, reporting and advocacy work as well as pitching to journalists to raise public awareness and showcase CARE’s work.

This content is most frequently in the form of photo, video, written stories and audio materials. Below are some tips and guidance on how to gather the most powerful, compelling and ethically sourced content in a humanitarian emergency.

All of CARE’s digital assets are available on our global database CAREImages and communications expert working on emergencies should be sure to upload all photo and video content gathered to the CAREImages site for sharing.

Protocol for Hiring Photographers in Emergencies

Informed consent

Content gathering guidelines and tips

Communications activities should not impede our programming activities or threaten the security and safety of our staff. When responding to an emergency, there are a multitude of opportunities and risks you need to consider.

The country director, response team leader, security adviser and communications team should carry out an  initial risk assessment for communications activities. This should be reviewed frequently to ensure that security is maintained while communication opportunities are maximised.

Risk analysis and messaging

Crisis Communications & the Crisis Event Communications Team (CECT)

Humanitarian principles in communication

International media is key to fundraising and awareness raising. The longer the story stays prominent in the news, the more people are aware of the needs and reminded to donate to provide assistance. It is crucial that CARE International’s communications during an emergency are compelling, efficient, timely and delivered quickly to maximise on publicity before the opportunity passes.

Engaging with the media before, during and after an emergency helps affected communities share their stories and raise their voice.

Having a credible presence in the media also increases CARE International’s name recognition, fundraising and influence. Through the media, news about our women and girl-focused work and advocacy calls will reach policymakers, donors, the NGO community and influential decision makers.

Sharing and storing information in an emergency is critical, as CARE offices worldwide need rapid and ongoing access to up-to-date, accurate information to share with donors, media, governments, policy makers and the general public. See the CARE International Communications Handbook for detail about information sharing and storage.

When working with the media, SPEED IS EVERYTHING…

The first few hours in a crisis are the most critical. Typically, the media has a short attention span. In small and large-scale disasters, media outreach within the first 12 hours is most critical, with media interest often dropping off after the first or second day of a rapid onset crisis.

Press releases or statements should be sent out within two hours of an emergency being declared or six hours at the latest. We need to ensure that our communications are produced and signed-off quickly so our key messages get to the intended audience quickly.

CARE International by default: When referring to the agency, it is best to use ‘CARE International’ – without mention of specific countries. In some cases, though, you may need to indicate which member of CARE International is making the comment. Press releases should include mention of CARE International and its work in the ‘boilerplate’ at the end of the release.


Talking points & emergency messaging

Writing a press release

CARE International Global Communications Hub

CARE International Media and Communications Toolkit

CARE International Brand Standards

CARE International Image Library