Tearfund wanted targeted media exposure to raise public awareness of its landmark report highlighting the link between the burning of plastic pollution and climate change - and ultimately to encourage people to take action.

Burning of plastic waste in Tanzania 4


In March 2020, Christian international development and relief agency Tearfund released The Burning Question, a report that highlighted the link between the burning of plastic pollution and climate change. The report was the first to quantify the impact that the burning of plastic from four major multinationals is having on the environment in six developing countries.

Tearfund wanted to raise awareness among the public, Church leaders and Christians - particularly in the UK, US, Netherlands and Switzerland where the multinationals are headquartered - and encourage citizens to write directly to the CEOs of the companies via a campaign website. Jersey Road PR worked closely with the existing media team to provide additional capacity and help secure targeted international and UK media exposure.

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A waste picker in Tanzania on a mountain of plastic pollution 1 Daniel Msirikale Tearfund


Working alongside Tearfund’s media team, we developed a project plan and key messages from the research report and wrote the main press release, localising it for each of the countries. We consulted on the approach to the UK national media, which was led by Tearfund, and researched targeted media lists for each of the different regions that the agency was responsible for, with a primary focus on national, Christian and sector media.

A media pitch with a full-house media pack of press releases, case studies, spokespeople, images and video was adapted to each media contact. It was distributed with an embargo to land interviews and coverage on or close to the launch date. A follow-up press release hooked into World Earth Day and called for more specific action from the public in the form of writing to the multinationals, using a league table to describe each company’s progress on reducing plastic waste in poorer countries.


The campaign secured a total of 90 pieces of coverage, including in all the major UK nationals, BBC World Service, Reuters, UK Christian media and a mix of sector media and blog coverage across financial, food and beverage, packaging and plastics, and environmental focus areas. A mix of national and sector media picked up the story in the US and countries from around the world also featured the story, including Spain, Italy, Portugal, India, New Zealand and Czechoslovakia. The pick-up of the story in three of the major Netherlands nationals resulted in some Government doors opening to the local Tearfund team.

The brand impact in terms of awareness was extensive with an online readership of 2.43 billion, print circulation of 1.68 million and listenership of 6.28 million. With close to 6,000 social shares, the reputation and 36 links from coverage, the digital impact of the campaign was successfully and ultimately resulted in increased pressure, from the media and public, on the multinationals to reduce the amount of plastic pollution they produce in poorer countries.

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