Key results

Global media coverage supports awareness of last known male northern white rhino in the world

The Challenge

There are some subjects and themes that will always be a challenge to promote in the mainstream media. Examples would be the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants and the Association of Garage Door Specialists.

These are lovely organisations, but not always viewed as “sexy” by journalists.

So when we took a call from Helping Rhinos, asking for support in promoting a few key messages around the anticipated death through old age of Sudan, the last known male northern white rhino in the world, we knew our assignment would be less challenging.

Our first task was to take a brief on the facts and figures around Sudan, the difference between northern and southern rhinos, and a reminder that white rhinos are not actually white!

We knew that the media would be hugely receptive to this story, so we wanted to ensure that key messages around issues such as extinction, poaching, illegal trafficking of ivory and the anti-poaching teams protecting wild animals around the world, were also covered.

Our Solution

We decided to send out an “alert” to put journalists on notice that the sad death of Sudan was only a matter of days away.

Using the latest media data-gathering software, we built up a list of journalists around the world who had shown an interest in wildlife in general and rhinos in particular. We included Twitter and other social media outlets in our searches.

Once the list was complete, we liaised with the wonderful Ol Pejeta Conservancy in East Africa, where Sudan had been living out his final years, to issue the alert. Ol Pejeta contacted journalists in its contact book, while we attempted to sweep up the remainder.

The global media scene mobilised itself immediately and Sudan’s fate became global news.

Simon Jones, the chief executive of Helping Rhinos, responded to numerous TV and radio requests and was able to tell the story of the challenges facing this noble animal.

Sudan’s health took a temporary turn for the better, but his death was announced early one morning a week later.

Journalists from the around the world once more ran the story, this time with a greater focus on the extinction angle, but with the hope that Sudan’s daughter and grand-daughter might offer hope for the Northern White Rhino through artificial reproductive techniques.

Film footage covered poachers and anti-poaching teams in action and the BBC, Sky, CNN and all the major TV channels ran the story.

Although Cobb PR was supporting Helping Rhinos, we needed to be understanding of the crucial role played by Ol Pejeta. We did not want to steal their thunder, rather we wanted to point the media in their direction, but also offer Helping Rhinos to journalists as the UK charity that had worked with the Conservancy and raised funds for the ongoing care of Sudan.

The Outcome

Since working with Helping Rhinos we have:

Even in death Sudan had helped focus the world’s attention on the plight of his species. There is still a huge uphill struggle to persuade countries to ban the trade in rhino horn, but progress is being made.

Helping Rhinos is a London and US based charity that raises awareness of the plight of this beautiful and regal creature around the world. It fundraises for specific projects in Africa and recently donated significant funds to buy a mobile vet unit to be based at Ol Pejeta in Kenya, which will allow veterinary teams to travel into wildlife reserves to treat animals out in the bush in addition to treating domestic animals in the local communities.

Cobb PR is proud to support this charity and does not charge for its professional services.