Local Church Comms @RevArun #medialit

Arun Arora: Local Comms (used to work for Archbishop John Sentamu)

How do you get a story out when you know what you want to say?

  • God’s Rule
    • The media is something that can be redeemed by God’s Kingdom.
    • Traditionally in the church – relations with the media have been rocky, especially because the church can be quite anti “the media”.
      • OK if it’s The Times or The Telegraph, etc. but what about The Sun?!
  • Redeeming stories
  • Fear Stories
    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/textlad/2252631472/
    • A Word on Digital Media
      • “Digital is not all it’s cracked up to be. I’m sick of seeing all this hi-def, hi-hi, super-hi… It just seems to be a trend. In reality we all want analogue experiences.” Kylie Minogue. Times 19/06/10.
        • There’s a relationship between “old” and “new” media – Twitter only works because you can link to greater understanding.
        • E.g. The Beatitudes – bit like Twitter without the bigger understanding.
        • “Which Media Do You Trust”. Photo (2 years ago) by The Newspaper Society
        • 80.4% of British adults read a regional newspaper, rather than 61% who read a national newspaper – are these figures out of date?
  • New Media: The Power of Localism.  Clay Shirky “Here Comes Everybody”.
  • The Potential & The Fear
  • News-What is It?
    • Is it everything? Do people want to read about cereal?
    • Something that’s new?
    • Something unusual?
    • Not defined by the audience?
    • 5 categories
      • Events (something happens, e.g. 9/11) – in big stories may be all we hear about = “hard news”
      • Response (e.g. “The Today Programme”) – respond on behalf of community to what was hard news earlier (e.g. Cumbria shootings)
      • Piggy Back (commenting on comments, responding to response, especially fills a “slow news day”) – in many ways this is what we understand by blogs.
      • Calendar (specific known events)
      • Image (1972 – http://coffeeforclosers.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/napalm20girl.jpg – can’t see what has been cropped out of the image – other photographers & other soldiers)
  • So, if you want to get in the press – you need to fit in one of these criteria – the often is in the Response/Piggy Back category.
  • The role of the church as part of the event – e.g. repatriation of bodies, violent deaths, etc..
  • Editorials – don’t tend to make news… occasionally it may become an event.
  • Spot the Odd One Out
  • Interesting response:
  • Within full nuances, complex, hour’s lecture – it makes sense, but who actually reads the whole story…
  • C of E = a voluntary organisation, not a company. Term “Broad Church” comes from here. So can say “Don’t talk to Press without talking to your Comms Office”, but doesn’t work that way – but each vicar needs to think “does this empower the Kingdom”.
  • Assumption that this story is a bad thing… just because it got hot… Get 2 lots of coverage by putting out a statement & then the retraction.
  • A Priestly Parable?
    • What can we learn from Fr Tim Jones?
      • Possible to use media effectively in highlighting issues of faith –esp prophetic
      • Good relationships can/do exist – usually in the form of individuals continuing relationship
      • The adrenaline of ’15 minutes’ in 24/7 media world can be addictive (the first story was good, the 2nd a mistake)
      • Not all publicity is good publicity.
    • A Priestly Parable?
      • What can we learn from Fr Tim Jones?
        • Possible to use media effectively in highlighting issues of faith –esp prophetic
        • Good relationships can/do exist – usually in the form of individuals continuing relationship
        • The adrenaline of ’15 minutes’ in 24/7 media world can be addictive (the first story was good, the 2nd a mistake): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Airways_cross_controversy – pushed story too far, lost, now legally binding on all.
        • Not all publicity is good publicity.
          • AB John Sentamu – prayed through all stories, was seen as key. Secret to strong leadership – being led by the Holy Spirit & discerning through prayer.
    • What Would Hosea Do? http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=HOsea%201&version=NIV
    • http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=HOsea%201&version=NIV
      • How would you advise the prophet Hosea to use the media to proclaim his message?
        • The Sun or a gossip magazine could pick it up. But would this be positive?  Draw out the human story. Good news story – moving from prostitution to home?
      • What are the main issues that you face in getting across this message?
        • “God said to me…”
        • Not in CONTROL of exactly how the message will be portrayed – newspapers likely to promote negative image.
        • It’s NOT happened yet.
          • FACED
            • Culture – Theocracy v liberal democracy
            • Authority – God? Which? Whose?
            • Association – “God told me to do it”
            • Authenticity – Stunt v. Prophetic Act? (people are so CYNICAL)
            • People don’t buy into “God told me”, but if you say “it’s my story/it’s my faith” it works.
      • Think of a modern day Prophetic Act that media would cover positively.
        • Tony Campolo (lost the detail here)
      • Application
        • Be culturally relevant – know your pitch and know your audience. (Those who critique the church for reducing self to soundbites, need to see that Jesus often did this).
        • Authority – wide appeal
        • Association – nothing new under the sun. Dog bits man, man bits dog. (Understand the news values that operate)
        • Authenticity & Proclamations? As against Paul 1 Cor 19.22
        • NEVER be afraid to say I’ll ring you back (having taken the questions) – but do ring them back quickly!

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