Public and Media Relations – Basic Protocols
This policy is designed to ensure that the association makes the most of its media coverage and public relations activities to help protect and boost its reputation. This guidance also recognises that the public has a right to accurate information through the media. All members are asked to adhere to this policy and ensure there is consistency in dealing with the media. It should also minimise the possibility of errors and ensure prompt responses to the media, in the interest of damage limitation.
The purpose of this policy is to:
-Ensure a positive image of the association is portrayed wherever possible.
-Raise awareness of the organisation.
-Be open, honest and flexible as possible in responses to the media avoiding appearing as if there is something to hide.
-Foster good relationships with the local, regional, national and specialist media.
-Ensure staff respond quickly and accurately to the communications team so they can meet media deadlines, whenever possible.
-To be recognised as an association that values its members and the role they play.
-Raise awareness amongst everybody of the importance of gaining good publicity and dealing with the media effectively and responsibly.
3. DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
-No member of the association should enter into discussions with journalists without prior contact with the PRO or the Mentor.
-The PRO is responsible for handling all reactive media enquiries, proactive media, VIP visits, procurement of media services and media monitoring.
All media enquiries should be directed to the PRO in the first instance by telephone. This will ensure messages given out are consistent, corporate and can be logged centrally.
4.1 Should journalists approach member directly on any issue that relates to the association or to ask for an opinion or comment, the member should always explain that all media enquiries are dealt with by the PRO.
They should either transfer the journalist’s enquiry to the PRO or takes the journalist’s contact details and forward them immediately by telephone to the PRO or the Mentor.
The PRO will then deal with the media enquiry, by liaising with the key person to prepare and get sign off of the response within the specified journalist’s deadline.
4.2 Media interviews
All media interviews are carried out with support and guidance from the PRO, ensuring staff are aware of any corporate sensitivities and general controversial issues.
Please note: Media interviews will only be delivered by members who have been media trained.
Staff identified for media training will be determined by the PRO and all interviewees should ensure that they:
-Arrive at the interview location on time
-Respect confidentiality of operations throughout the interview
-Conduct themselves in an appropriate manner
-Respect and put forward the views of organistion
4.3 Preparing media statements
All members should provide information as quickly as possible to enable the PRO to prepare an accurate statement to meet reasonable demands of journalists. As a guideline, journalists on a daily publication would normally need a response that day and occasionally if there is an important breaking story, within half an hour.
Members should inform the PRO quickly of any issues relating to providing the information.
Press statements responding to media enquiries should always be prepared with, and issued through, the PRO who will clear them through a member of the Executive Team. All reactive statements must be consistent with the organisation's expertise and competence.
4.4 Alerting to the risk of negative publicity
Members should alert the PRO to any sensitive or controversial issues that are likely to attract negative media attention as soon as possible – even if it relates to something that could happen in the future.
The PRO is responsible for informing the Executive Team of any contentious, sensitive or major issue/initiative which is likely to attract positive or
negative media across the organisation.
The PRO will provide contextual briefing of sensitive matters to the team proactively, as required.
4.5 Proactive media management
The PRO will give advice on how best to attract positive media coverage for good news, events and projects – members are advised not to contact the media directly. Instead, they should contact the PRO for advice-giving as much notice as possible.
Press releases promoting a project/service should be issued through the PRO. If the subject is complex or controversial the appropriate person will clear the press release. However, if it is uncontroversial and positive such as the promotion of an event, a mentor can be asked to clear the press release for the PRO to issue.
Specifically opening new buildings or services should be highlighted to the PRO as soon as possible to ensure media opportunities are maximised.
Members are encouraged to write articles for professional journals or magazines but are asked to let the PRO know and to forward a copy to him/her if possible, before they are published. The PRO may need to be aware in case of enquiries from other journalists.
All media releases must be consistent with the organisation's strategic direction and values.
4.6 Monitoring media coverage
The PRO will respond to any inaccurate or negative media coverage about the organisation, except where responding would exacerbate the situation. This could be done by writing a letter to the editor, asking for a correction or putting forward more positive stories to readdress the balance.
Media coverage is monitored by the PRO and a review of coverage is provided to the Executive Team in the form of a weekly electronic media update.
4.7 Speaking at events
The PRO is responsible for managing the reputation of the organisation, which includes delivering presentations to external organisations or speaking at events. If you are planning at speaking at an event you must contact the PRO and inform him/her of the event, key messages and materials to be presented. The team can support you with your key messages and ensure that all your resources include the organisations' most up to date branding.
Please remember that some Google images have Copyright attached and any member downloading images should seek advice first.
4.8 Use of photography or video
Photographs or video should not be used in publicity material without consent from members of the association or members of the public. Any member of the public who is videoed or has their photograph taken to be used in publicity material for the association or to promote its services needs to sign a ‘Photo Consent’ form. Parental consent should be given to any person under 16 years of age. A form should be made available. If a photographer turns up at an event, members should make sure that the photographer and the PRO are aware of anyone who does not want to be filmed/photographed.
Any filming, radio interviews or press photography must be cleared with the PRO beforehand.
4.9 Major incidents
In the event of a major incident, the PRO would be part of the organisation's response.
4.10 VIP, celebrity visits and donations to the organisation
The PRO is responsible for managing all VIP/celebrity visits to the organisation. Members involved in such visits should contact the PRO in the first instance so that the necessary guidance can be adhered to.
Similarly, when donations or gifts are made to the organisation, please contact the PRO to ensure the event is logged and where appropriate, the PRO will attend to take photographs and produce follow up publicity materials.
No donation visits, however small or large should take place without being logged and appropriate staffing organised to accompany the visiting members of the public.
4.11 Procuring media services
The procurement of media services including media training, graphic design, photography and video or audio production should all take place through the PRO. This will ensure high quality, cost-effective services are provided to the organisation.