Dealing with the media

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You have a story...

...and the media may be interested. But it is important that you approach the media with your stories in a way that is interesting and useful.

So how do we go about getting the best coverage for the stories we want to tell?

Here are some things to consider.
Grab attention
Everyday matters do not grab people's attention. The different and unusual very often will.

You need to think about what are doing and how you can interest people. So church holds service is not interesting but if it is a special service of celebration or remembrance then that may be of interest. Do not be afraid to "sell" your story. It will be competing with other stories and events so will need to stand out. Having the opportunity for a good photo will help. As will if you have something to say that links to news that is of local or national interest.

Remember, the church is about more than services. Your community projects, outreach events and fundraising activities may all be stories the press want to hear about.
Plan and prepare
You need to be well organised. Think who may be interested in the story.

Is it your local newspaper, or would the story work for radio, or even television? Give them enough time to research and develop the story and think about their deadlines. Weekly newspapers tend to be printed on a Tuesday or Wednesday so it is often best to contact journalists on a Thursday or Friday the week before publication.

It is still useful to put information into a press release that you can send to your local editor. For guidance about how to put a press release together see the advice of the national media team on the Church of England website.

The press release needs to sell the story. It needs a good headline that summarises the story and the basic information about the story should be in the first paragraph. The release itself should be around one side of A4.

The basic questions you need to be able to answer in a good press release are:
  • What? - is happening
  • Who? -  is involved or affected
  • Where? - is it happening
  • When? - is it hapening
You may also want to cover the questions:
  • How? - is this being done
  • Why? - are you doing this
It is a good idea to include a quote or two from relevant people.

Always remember to include contact details so the journalist can follow up the story. Make sure that person is able to talk about the story well and is actually available. The vicar is not always the best contact.

Always follow up your press release with a phone call to the journalist.

Finally if you think the story may have wider regional or national interest or it maybe something of interest to the church press then please let the communications team know.
When publicity comes to you
Some considerations

High profile stories - good or bad - will often mean you have to deal with the press (local / national / international). Positive publicity on a national scale can do no end for the reputation of your parish and the Diocese.

However, we have to look at the big picture…

What is good news to you may be bad news to someone else - be prepared for a backlash. For example, perhaps your church is pursuing a new build, the movement of graves or a change of premises. This may be good for the parish, but some people may object.

If the story is high profile, or you think it may be, please contact the Communications Team for assistance:

Stuart Haynes, Director of Communications,
0151 705 2150 or 0792 571 1007

Jude Knight, Communications Manager
0151 702 7230

Sarah Doyle, Communications Officer
0151 705 2131

Negative publicity also requires help from the Communications Team - we will act as a buffer between yourselves and the press.

Please do not try to deal with negative publicity alone - contact the Communications Team using the details above.

It is also best to be prepared. Please look at the following pages - many people who have had to deal with positive or negative publicity have said, ‘I wish I knew that before!’

Making It Easier

Communicate well

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Help and support

If you need any help or support for dealing with the media, contact:
Stuart Haynes
Director of Communications
0151 705 2150

For more advice about contacting the press:
Church of England Communications Team

For contact details of most national and regional media orgainsations:
Media UK