Dealing with negative publicity

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The term often applied to negative publicity is ‘media crisis,’ a term which suggests panic. However, by taking a few well-thought out steps and working with the Communications Team, we can give the media what they want and share the right messages with the public.

In case of any negative media enquiry, please stay calm and contact the Communications Team straight away, day or night.

Do not feel compelled to comment if asked by a journalist (whether that is by phone, or ‘doorstepping’). Simply say you will take their details and get back to them.

Alternatively, put your answer machine on and give the Communications Team the details of the callers. We can then handle the calls on your behalf.

Communications Team
Stuart Haynes
Director of Communications
0151 705 2150 / 0753 421 8122
stuart.haynes@liverpool.anglican.org 

Jude Knight
Communications Manager
0151 702 7230
jude.knight@liverpool.anglican.org

Sarah Doyle
Communications Officer
0151 705 2131
sarah.doyle@liverpool.anglican.org
What is a ‘crisis’?
'Crisis management' is the term for the handling of high profile news stories. These could include:
  • Inappropriate behaviour by someone connected to the church
  • An arrest of someone connected to the church
  • A protest about a church building
  • A protest about any type of action taken by the church or someone connected with it
  • A murder or other serious crime committed within the parish (you may not think that this involves the church, but journalists very often approach the local vicar for comment)
  • A crime or serious accident within the church grounds
  • A high profile funeral in the parish
  • Financial irregularities
  • An employment tribunal
This list is not exhaustive.
How do I spot a ‘crisis’?
If you know that there is an issue coming up and you think we may not know about it - please let us know as soon as possible.

The sooner you let us know, the sooner we can put in place plans to deal with any media, should they pick up on the story.

We appreciate that crises can often happen overnight and unexpectedly - in all cases contact the Communications Team (day or night) with as much information as possible.

Who, what, why, where? Who are the key people involved?
If I am approached by a journalist, should I comment?
No. Take these steps:
  1. Refer to the help sheet 'what to do if a journalist calls' 
  2. Use the message sheet from the resources section below, noting the names, numbers, time of call and what newspaper / TV channel / radio station they are from. Be polite and say you will pass on their details to the Communications Team. The telephone sheet gives you set phrases that you can use to remain firm but polite, OR
  3. Put the telephone on answer phone, and only answer if you know the caller. Otherwise, note down the details and pass them on to the Communications Team - We will call them back. You could use the message sheet from the resource section below to make sure you cover everything.
What should I bear in mind?
When you handle an initial journalist call (on the doorstep or by telephone) you can be taken by surprise. Please make sure you are aware of these considerations:
  • Yes and no questions - A journalist could ask you a simple yes or no question e.g. do you support XXX after his/her arrest? You could answer, ‘Well, I suppose so, or ‘well, s/he is a good friend,’ Headline reads – ‘Church gives full support to XXX’ It is now suggested that the whole church supports this person when this may not be the case.
  • Agreeing - A journalist may ask you a question and a simple nod or noise of agreement can be read as an affirmation of the point that they are making.
  • Pressing you - some journalists will ask and ask a question in the hope that you will eventually give in and give them an answer. Please do not do this – use the telephone sheet to help you and make it clear that all you can do is pass the message on.
What happens after I have passed the details on to the Communications Team?
We will work with the parties involved on drafting a statement that, once approved by all concerned, will be given to the media.

Occasionally TV or radio will request an interview. However, whether this happens depends on the circumstances of the situation. You will not be forced to speak to anyone you do not want to.
Are there any resources to help me?
Yes. We have a full tool kit of communications help:

People - Contact the Communications Team:
Resources: Courses on Communications: