Diocese of Guildford Communications
24-hour news, and the demands thereof, are inescapable facts of our modern culture. However, the Church's priorities are the communication of the gospel, and ministry to individuals. Our team aim is to respond to the media's legitimate demands, while ensuring that these key priorities flourish unhindered.
Churches and clergy across the Diocese have different levels of involvement with the media according to past experience and personal connections. Some parishes achieve significant local press profiles simply because someone 'news aware' within the community can sniff out and write a good story, has the right contacts, or simply knows how to handle the media.
Conversely, other Churches and clergy may harbour deep mistrust and very negative views of the press. As a result, opportunities to tell stories with great potential to raise the profile of the local Church, and the Church as a whole, may be lost.
But the press seeks strong stories - the harder the better! Tabloids, in particular, although caricatured as focused on royalty, religion-gone-wrong, sex and sensation, are actually really interested in stories about people.
Realistically, healthy Church-life will never be the stuff of front page headlines, unless some spectacular aberration occurs! However, we should strive to be prepared, because sudden events often mean the church's vital role in many areas of society is most needed, and comes under scrutiny when disaster strikes.
The Diocesan Communications Team has a wide brief, part of which is to encourage:
Those who have a good story to tell – to tell it!
- Profile-raising is good for the mission of the Church
- It can encourage the Churches themselves to see that they’re not operating in isolation…
The way parishes involve themselves with their Communities
- As the established Church, the Church of England (uniquely among the English denominations) is in the business of engagement with whole communities – Christian or not
The Churches’ representative task.
- Churches and clergy may be called on at any time to represent (to speak for) the community around them (e.g. in the event of a sudden tragic death or a disaster of some kind)
The Communications team can help with:
News press strategy
- A local news story about events and things achieved can often be handled within a local Church setting, but never try to handle the national media on your own. Their agenda will not mirror yours.
- Ground may need to be prepared for media interviews and possibly unjustly negative articles or comment.
- The Communications team can offer help with press releases.
- Proactive response – the placing of interviews with the right papers or radio stations can be very important.
- The "Guildford News Section" of the website is there to enable parishes to handle their own release of stories of general interest.
GOLDEN RULE! Give adequate warning of looming crises! If a potential media crisis looms - even just ‘a cloud the size of a man’s hand’ - inform the Communications Team as soon as possible because stories run like wildfire in our news-hungry environment! A simple, timely, statement can sometimes obviate a costly damage limitation project, so, please - make contact now!
Diocesan Website: If you have any comments about the website please contact Mary Peters
Surrey Church Major Incident Plan