As EA-aligned foundations and projects direct more money, EA ideas continue to gain traction, What We Owe the Future comes out, etc, there’s naturally going to be more attention on EA soon. That attention will likely range from enthusiasm to thoughtful criticism to . . . less thoughtful criticism. If you’ve been involved in EA for a while, this transition might be a bit disorienting.
I’m writing this post on behalf of some staff (at CEA, Forethought Foundation, and Open Philanthropy) who are working on communications for EA as a movement. We’re trying to prepare for increased attention, plan the best ways to communicate complex ideas succinctly, and increase the chance that EA will be portrayed accurately and thoughtfully.
Doing more proactive communications work
For the last several years, most EA organizations did little or no pursuit of media coverage. CEA’s advice on talking to journalists was (and is) mostly cautionary. I think there have been good reasons for that — engaging with media is only worth doing if you’re going to do it well, and a lot of EA projects don’t have this as their top priority.
While this may have made sense for each individual organization, as a result, we’ve missed out on opportunities to convey the good ideas and work coming from EA. There’s also confusion out there about what EA is even about. Ideally more people would have a clearer sense of what EA is, so they can agree or disagree with an accurate representation of EA and not with a misconception.
Several EA organizations are working together with a communications advising firm to answer questions like
- Who are key audiences we especially want to reach?
- How do these audiences currently see EA?
- What are the best ways to reach these audiences?
- What EA ideas are especially important to convey?
Connecting EA projects with journalists
I’ve been writing to EA organizations and projects to see if they have recent success stories that journalists might be interested in covering. If I’ve missed your project and you’d like some help connecting with journalists who might want to cover your work, please do get in touch! email@example.com
As before, if a journalist reaches out to you, we suggest you look through our guide on responding to journalists.
If I see a new media piece about EA, who should I flag it to?
Feel free to flag things to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll talk with our advisors about whether some kind of response makes sense. We’ll likely have heard about pieces in large-scale publications, but might miss coverage of EA in publications in languages other than English, or targeted readership that might be of interest (e.g. university student newspapers, professional sub-communities).
Why don’t CEA or other EA orgs push back more publicly on misconceptions?
The advice we’ve gotten so far is to not repeat misconceptions. You’re unlikely to see an EA organization say “No, X isn’t true; actually Y is true.” Instead they’re more likely to talk about “Here’s why Y is important.”
Some criticisms will be unfair or uninformed. Typically we expect to respond by writing pieces explaining our own views rather than responding directly to critical pieces.
Should I reach out to celebrities, HNWIs, etc about getting involved with EA?
Very unlikely. There are existing projects doing this, and it’s better that outreach happen in a coordinated way than a bunch of people contacting them. Simran Dhaliwal of Longview Philanthropy writes: “Please do reach out if you have a connection to an UHNW individual/family; we'd be more than happy to invest the many hours it takes to build a relationship and discuss EA concepts in-depth / assist with coordination." email@example.com
How should I respond to takes on EA that I disagree with?
Maybe not at all — it may not be worth fanning the flames.
If you do respond, it helps to link to a source for the counter-point you want to make. That way, curious people who see your interaction can follow the source to learn more.
We like Nathan Young’s advice here.