Faith Matters

Summary:

Thanks to a multi-pronged profile-building campaign by Journalista, the not-for-profit interfaith organisation Faith Matters has risen from having practically no media coverage to providing expert analysis to mainstream media on some of the biggest stories of the year. The impact of its interfaith, community cohesion and anti-extremism work is now widely publicised in the UK and around the world.

Our PR campaign secured 438 pieces of coverage since March 2010 with an audience reach of 88 million people across five continents. This coverage achieved an average AVE of £94,000 a month, representing an ROI of 117:1. The awareness delivered through this campaign directly drove a significant surge in web traffic and a 45 per cent increase in international enquiries. This growing international standing helped Faith Matters to secure funding from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office to open new headquarters in Pakistan.

Our creativity, persistence, and deep understanding of the issues and cultural sensitivities surrounding Faith Matters’ work has also brought it to the attention of other major government funders, including the Department for Communities and Local Government. As a result of our successes, Journalista and Faith Matters will soon be collaborating with the Home Office to launch a pioneering project mapping incidents of Islamophobic hate crime across the country.

Our belief that Faith Matters had important stories to tell saw us go beyond the brief and provide additional pro bono consultancy time, including work within the organisation’s community projects. Engaging with these programmes, as well as local, ethnic and religious media has ensured that Faith Matters maintains the grassroots credibility it needs to work with faith and minority groups. We have directly reached into some of the world’s most divided and insular communities with Faith Matters’ core messages of tolerance and understanding.

Objectives:

•    Attract new sources of government funding by demonstrating the impact of Faith Matters’ work on interfaith relations and cross-cultural understanding.
•    Gain international media coverage to help expand overseas operations.
•    Ensure that Faith Matters’ local projects are seen by insular religious communities in areas where the relationships between faith groups are strained.
•    Ensure that Faith Matters’ public profile represents their interest in all faith groups and not only Islam.

Strategies:

Build the public profile of director Fiyaz Mughal, establishing him as a spokesman on issues of interfaith relations, multiculturalism and preventing extremism.
Director, Fiyaz Mughal, has appeared on every major British news channel and radio stations across the UK.

Develop strong relationships with key journalists
As Faith Matters had practically no media profile when we began our campaign, it was crucial for us to build awareness among key journalists. We arranged meetings with leading figures in national, local, ethnic and religious media to explain Faith Matters’ work and ethos. Developing a strong relationship with the Press Association meant that our stories were seen on newswires across the world.

Join Faith Matters at a grassroots level
Journalista joined Faith Matters in its community projects to gain a better understanding of its work. We provided media training to members of the Southall Muslim and Sikh Media Monitoring and Response Group, a project aimed at countering the negative portrayal of Muslim-Sikh relations in one of the UK’s most religiously diverse areas. We then facilitated meetings with journalists, allowing group members to comment on how the two religions can overcome interfaith tension.

Launch Faith Matters’ research to the world’s media
By fully immersing ourselves in Faith Matters’ research process we were able to draw out the key news angles in a way that was accessible for journalists and the public. Securing report exclusives with major media outlets gave our target media the opportunity to fully explore wider issues. An exclusive with the BBC on Faith Matters’ report into Muslim converts in the UK for instance, saw the story feature across their television, radio and online platforms. We also sourced relevant case studies to ensure that the reports gained in-depth coverage.

Help Faith Matters consolidate its messaging
The change in government in May 2010 signalled a monumental shift in the way community organisations obtain funding. We worked closely with Faith Matters to ensure that its messaging was completely in line with the new priorities of the Coalition government and the Big Society.

In light of this, we developed Public Affairs literature that realigned Faith Matters’ messaging for maximum impact with key decision makers. We also supplied a detailed breakdown and evaluation of media coverage to show the value of its work to potential funders.

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