How did you first get into media?
I began many moons ago on my student newspaper at Lancaster Uni, Scan. And I was hooked. I became the news editor there and still look back at the time really fondly. It was huge fun and greatly inspiring.
You are the Head of Media, PR and Supporter Care for Amnesty International UK. What does this mean day-to-day?
No one day is the same. I oversee all the media outputs from Amnesty UK – so basically everything you see in the British media from Amnesty should in theory have gone through my eyes. In addition I also look after supporter care, which means managing the monitoring and feedback from our supporters and learning from it.
Last year was a tough year for a lot of charities’ media teams including the controversy about unethical fundraising practices, the closure of Kids Company and debates about executive pay in the sector. What do you think the biggest challenges are for the sector in light of last year’s issues?
The world of media is never an easy ride. And the last 12 months have been no exception. As charities we try and ensure we adhere to our own high standards, and that means being open and transparent. What is important, and particularly in these difficult times, is to remember that the sector nearly always has its heart in the right place. We are all trying to make a positive change to society. But we are also human and mistakes do happen. At Amnesty we welcome that scrutiny and the power of a free press. They need to be able to hold people to account and investigate.
What do you think is the way for the charity sector to respond? Could you give any examples of how Amnesty is reacting?
At Amnesty we look to address the issues raised head on. Wherever a concern is raised we investigate thoroughly. On the fundraising debacle we investigated all our records and while we had fully compiled with all standards, we have decided to launch a complete review to ensure we adhere to a gold standard.
What advice would you have for anyone wanting to pursue a career in media in the charity sector?
The biggest thing is to ensure you have a real passion for the issue – and that you are determined to make a difference. The private sector pays significantly more, but in the charity sector you get to go home with your conscience intact and in the knowledge that you are really trying to make the world a better place. Not a bad place to be in!