Interview: Alex Valk

The media and communications officer at the Children's Legal Centre talks to Ben Cook about the importance of avoiding jargon

Alex Valk
Alex Valk

Alex Valk is media and communications officer at the Children's Legal Centre

What campaigns have impressed you recently?

The Law Society's Sound Off for Justice campaign, which opposes the government's proposed cuts to legal aid. It has interactive ideas for people, such as using the website to leave a voicemail for the justice secretary, Ken Clarke. It's using recorded material to get the public involved.

What will be the next big thing in social media?

Social media is one of the new tools that have emerged in the past few years, and campaigners are starting to figure out the possibilities.

How has the economic downturn affected campaigning?

You have to do things on a smaller budget - this is where social media is good. You can get people to do things for free and you can also specifically target people according to age, location or relationships.

With increasingly limited resources, I think charities might look to strengthen their relationships with other charities to achieve campaigning goals. If a large number of charities call for something, ministers or the public might be more inclined to listen.

Do you think there is less shock advertising by charities now?

I'm not sure if there is less or more shock campaigning. I would advocate getting things into the news. Studies have shown that after the tsunami hit Thailand there was a link between the amount of news coverage and the amount of income given to charities. There is no point upsetting people for no reason - I don't think shock tactics are brilliant for raising money.

What is your advice to someone who is just beginning a career in campaigning?

It's important to be organised. You need to work on a plan of action and know when to get news stories out. Research what other campaigns are happening and what events are taking place that might make it more difficult to get things in the news. You should have a clear message - don't get lost in jargon.

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