How to run a charity : lesson 2
By clive on Nov 30, 2009
The possibility of closure of a voluntary service such as the Citizens Advice Bureau will be news worthy to local papers who's distribution may cover a county and is measured in 1000's. The Editor is motivated by filling the paper with stories and not missing significant stories, for example they would be embarrassed if a story is run in a regional paper and they missed it.
A story may be incorrect, incomplete, misleading, damage the chances of the charity being funded by potentially embarrassing the funders when negotiations are underway. The press have no consequences for the above and will publish material that they know has gaps.
You all know this, I knew this and working for Sun (not The Sun) and not being press trained, it is drummed into you that you don't talk to the press unless you are trained. There is good reason for this and you need to be aware of it. Even the best meaning reporters can be selective because of space constraints and change the overall meaning of a otherwise well thought out communication. In our case no damage was done, but it could have been.
On the positive side, we did have a local Councilor who was press savvy and had existing connections with the local media.
Also on the very positive side the local paper mounted a very positive campaign, published letters and ran very positive articles, so I can't in any significant way be critical of the local paper in this case, just extract some lessons from the experience.
However, the overall lesson is to get press trained or use a media savvy individual to do all the press communication and be mindful of what motivates a local paper. They can be a very powerful positive force.