Wednesday, 23 June 2010

We're from Head Office and we're here to help!

I have to confess stifling a snigger when I read that the ImpACT Coalition was developing a media response unit. The idea seems to be for member charities to be able to contact ImpACT if they get in a spot of bother with the press and someone will help them frame answers to difficult and/or probing questions.  Now, from its instigation ImpACT was always keen to help charities present themselves in the media and counter public misunderstanding and ignorance.  Its members have always been able to draw on some carefully considered stock questions and answers for use in their media strategies. Certainly, during my time with the project, I spent a good deal of time working with member charities with communications dilemmas.

My problem is that ImpACT really needs to be focussing on the much more complicated area of driving up standards of transparency and accountability rather than being a kevlar helmet.  It's much more important to engage with the gaps in public and media understanding of the sector and push for systemic organisational transparency, accountability and impact reporting.

A recent blog by Jonathan Waddingham  on how to handle a media crisis seems to me to be required reading for charities large or small and would probably be as useful as ImpACT's media SWAT Team.  Cheap and user-friendly social networking can only improve our transparency and, because, at it's best it's 'conversational' and interactive, it can radically improve the quality of our accountability.  That's the way to avoid awkward press and public questions, live our missions openly, don't rely on being able to 'sandbag' stories with, or without ImpACT's help!