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Communications

What to do if there's bad news

Bad news probably sells more papers than good. So what do you do if the local media get wind of a negative news story concerning your parish or people within it?

Firstly - don't panic

As soon as anything happens that you think the media might take an interest in, alert Communications and Resources. We will work with you on a plan of action to deal with media enquiries - including helping you to produce a statement that can be given to the media if necessary. Communications and Resources can do this for you if appropriate.

Be polite, honest and to the point

When speaking to the media, always be polite, honest and to the point. If you do not know the answer to a question, offer to find it out and get back to them within their deadline - don't try to make a hasty guess on the spot that could then be misinterpreted.

Don't allow yourself to be bullied

You do not have to answer their questions immediately - don't allow yourself to be bullied. Make a note of the journalist's enquiry and any questions they have, as well as their contact details and the deadline to which they are working. Offer to call them back within that deadline with your response.

Always be positive

Denials or a response of "no comment" will suggest you have something to hide. Mistakes multiply when people refuse to talk, so be helpful and offer to find out the answers to all the journalist's questions. Do not ever speak 'off the record' - if something is worth saying, be honest and say it. Do not reveal information you would not be happy to see in print or being broadcast.

Even if you are happy to deal with the media yourself, please always let Communications & Resources know as soon as possible that you are planning to do so, and the publication, TV or radio station by which you have been contacted. That way, we can keep track of what the media are saying about the parishes in the Diocese and be fully up to speed ourselves, should they contact us separately for our comments.