Running Church Comms #MediaLit11 Anna Drew and Arun Arora

What do you think of when you think of PR?  Lost causes, spin, little regard for truth/integrity. (Stephen Fry:

“Public relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what other say about you. Public Relations practice is the discipline which looks after reputation-with the aim of earning understanding and support, and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organization and its publics.”

What is our public? Audiences = passive, but publics share something with you.  Grunig & Hunt, determine categories into which each public falls, then can develop an appropriate PR strategy for each public.

Define your public in the following categories (recognises may be ethical issues):

  • Minimal Effort (High interest, low influence)
  • Keep Satisfied  (Low interest, low influence)
  • Keep informed (High interest, high influence)
  • Key Players  (Low interest, high influence)

This is essentially a stakeholder analysis grid, we may connect with certain people because of the networks they can bring… but the conversation seemed to agree that we also value them as an individual/their skills. We bring skills from other areas of our life to Ministry.

If you have a news story, do you aim for News of the World (large readership, but not influencers), or Independent (less readers, but more influential).  Don’t ignore individual pastoral relationships as you’re doing it.

News is new, the major events that shape society, (what someone else wants to suppress!). News is what is out of ordinary… conflict, unusual behaviour, pain, emotion.  News is ABOUT PEOPLE!

HARD NEWS: Something big, something involving people, the front page on any newspaper (war, conflict, terrorism, etc.): something that happens that has consequences. The response we get (from e.g. politicians helps set the tone).  Comments (e.g. Richard Littledon), ;the common, ordinary, decent, working Brit’. Certain times in Calendar’s mean that there’s certain directions that news will go (e.g. Remembrance Sunday; Christmas; Easter are great opportunities to join in).

Image – a picture can change a story hugely… e.g. the Vietnamese child picture, influenced military action.  Celebrities hugely influence what gets coverage.

STORY: Learn the rules for telling a story: who, what, when, where, why.  Think about the tone of images, etc. and whether your story is “newsworthy”. What is the core message that you are trying to put across. Condemning is easier, positive is hard… bear in mind the balance between getting heard and the message you want to put across.  (If we rant about “how terrible x is, how much we’re offended”, we may get press coverage, but where is grace).

EXERCISE: Write a media release using a nursery rhyme character, to feedback from the group.

Beware of cryptic headlines. What is your core message? If something is ‘quote’ try to put it into someone else’s mouth so it’s requotable. Beware of ‘churchy’ language. Press will seize upon/enjoy any conflict.

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