On February 28 — just four days after Russia invaded Ukraine — Germany’s Federal Association of Digital Publishers and Newspaper Publishers (BDZV) mobilised to provide assistance to people in Ukraine, as well as for the hundreds of thousands of refugees that have fled the country.
The day before, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had delivered a landmark speech in which he denounced Russia and did an about-face to endorse supporting Ukraine with weapons. And BDZV decided to arm publishers in a very different way.
“We decided on a mutual ad to solicit donations,” Anja Pasquay, BDZV spokeswoman, told INMA. The campaign allows participating news media companies to download print and digital ad materials from the BDZV site and ask readers to donate to the relief fund. Once they decided to take action, the campaign came together quickly, she said.
“I wrote a few simple lines as copy for our ad,” she said. “The colour scheme was obvious — the Ukrainian flag.”
The campaign’s hashtag — #ZeitungenHelfen (#NewspapersHelp) — is one they had already had in place: “We have been using it for quite some time in social media when newspapers do something spectacular and worthwhile for the community or their audience,” Pasquay explained.
Within 24 hours, aided by BDZV’s design team in Bonn, the campaign was live. Pasquay said it was rolled out via e-mail, social media platforms, and the organisation’s Web site.
By March 4 — two days after the campaign officially launched — newspapers were publishing the ad, both in print versions and as an animated version on their Web sites. One important feature they built in was the ability for each publisher to add its logo at the bottom of the ad, signalling that publication’s support of the Ukrainian relief cause.
To ensure the funds raised will be distributed where the need is greatest, BDZV has partnered with Aktionsbündnis Katastrophenhilfe, a disaster relief action alliance of Caritas International, Unicef, the German Red Cross, and Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe.
“The money raised will go to various humanitarian activities in Ukraine or the bordering countries taking in the refugees,” Pasquay said.
Open to all
The ad materials are available in various formats for both print and digital, ensuring every publication can find something that works for them. Pasquay also noted that publications do not need to be members of BDZV to participate in the relief efforts.
“It’s open access, so even non-members can join,” she said.
As of March 10, more than 100 newspapers totalling about 700 local editions had joined the effort. Some, she said, had published the ad once, while others had already published it multiple times. The organisation has been pleased by the tremendous response the campaign has received.
“We expect that, in the end, almost every member of BDZV will have published the ad at least once,” she said. “We are extremely proud and thankful that so many of our members already gave a helping hand.”
This national campaign is “just the beginning,” Pasquay said: “We are thinking about [creating] a Q&A concerning legal questions for refugees, and/or a simple publication or ad with helpful information for Ukrainian refugees entering Germany.”
Like the #ZeitungenHelfen campaign, these will be given away or posted online as a service provided by each local newspaper.