When the media calls

by Michael Ford last modified 08 Aug, 2019 03:38 PM

Dealing with the media might be part of your role, but it can feel overwhelming if you’ve not had to do this before. The diocesan Communications Team is always on hand and happy to provide help and advice if you’re not sure what to do.

Enquiries will range from arguments about graveyards to deaths and issues around safeguarding. But there will also be good news stories and even the faintly ridiculous. Our favourite request was for a vicar to go on air to talk about what you should wear in the heat to church, but even that request led to a great interview.

Our top tips

  • There is no such thing as off the record. Anything you say could be reported, so always be polite and courteous. It’s OK to say that you will get back to the journalist. Ask them what their deadline is and be sure to respond before deadline if the question is something you can answer easily.
  • Journalists can be persistent – There job is to get the full story and answer the questions someone reading their story would ask – like “what does the Vicar think?” But the public will understand you are busy so do let a journalist know that while you would talk to them, if it is an inconvenient time then let them know you are busy dealing with parish matters and feel free to let them know what they are.
  • If the issue is controversial, or if you’re not sure how to respond, then it’s always best to ring the communications team for advice and support. For a host of legal reasons, safeguarding matters and stories involving the police should always be referred to the communications team before you commit to speaking with a journalist. If it help, when these issues arise simply leave, as part of your message, a request for the media to contact us , this will free you up to do the pastoral work that will be doubt be needed in your parishes.
  • While it’s important to be friendly, it’s also important to be factual and to the point. Whether you’re being interviewed or helping the journalist with information to support their story, never speculate! 
  • Never say ‘no comment’. Either refer the journalist to us or, if it’s an interview, say confidently “that’s not something I can answer… but what I can say is this…”
  • Finally – if in doubt give us a ring - that’s what we are hear for!

Who to contact

In emergencies we are available between 7am and 10pm each day of the week on 07799 900610.

For all other enquiries and interview practice please email or call the Communications Office at Church House between 10am and 5pm on 01722 438652, or you can email us at .

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