Interview: Amanda Thomson

The communications and research manager at Action on Addiction, the charity that helps with the prevention and treatment of drug and alcohol addictions, says taking the initiative is a key part of good press work

Amanda Thomson
Amanda Thomson

- This article was corrected on 9 April 2013; please see final paragraph.

- What is your role?

To communicate the charity's work as clearly and widely as possible.

- How has having the Duchess of Cambridge as patron benefited the charity?

It's great to have a royal choosing a gritty issue. It puts the spotlight on addiction, because there's a global interest in her.

- How do you make sure her pregnancy doesn't overshadow the charity's message?

This is extremely difficult. For example, when she visited Hope House Treatment Centre we explained about the charity first and then reported on the duchess speaking to women who get services from Action on Addiction.

- What are the biggest trends in comms this year?

Social media has made comms much more immediate. It used to take a while for stories to filter through; now it's minute by minute and worldwide.

For example, our press coverage and photos of the duchess once appeared on an Australian newspaper's website within 10 minutes of her arriving at one of our events.

We use Facebook and Twitter, but we have to be careful, as photography of the royals can be restricted.

- What advice would you give to people starting out in comms?

Read widely, both high and low culture. This keeps you aware of the full range of issues that affect your charity.

Try to take the initiative on press work, because you can help to ensure that journalists get a quality experience. We invite them to our treatment centres to meet staff and clients before they start writing with their own agenda.

People who have been through our treatment centres and services are best placed to tell their stories and, without a doubt, have the most impact in promoting the charity's message.

- The article originally said that Hope House was a children's hospice.

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