Interview: Andrew McLaughlin

The communications manager at the National Trust tells Ben Cook that it's crucial to keep the message relevant

Andrew McLaughlin
Andrew McLaughlin

- What is the biggest challenge in campaigning?

Getting people's attention - there are a lot of competing interests at the moment because it's quite a busy news time. You have to make sure your message is as relevant to as many people as possible. Working through social media is important - the public increasingly expects charities to engage with it through channels such as Twitter.

- What recent campaigns have impressed you?

Cancer Research UK always has great visibility - it's a well-known charity and it is very good at keeping its campaigns relevant. It's also a charity that the public actively supports through events such as the Race for Life activities.

- What trends have you noticed in campaigning?

The convergence of the offline and online worlds. We're tapping into this with a new website, MyFarm. People can register for a £30 annual subscription fee, then every month there will be a decision for the online community to make, such as what should be grown in a field - wheat, barley or oats.

- Has the new government made it easier or more difficult to campaign?

A new government means change and we've been busy responding to consultations. It's harder to get time with ministers and officials, because building those contacts takes time.

- What's been the highlight of your career so far?

Working at the National Trust. Great people work here - there is an amazing variety of involvement in so many different corners of England, Northern Ireland and Wales. It's enjoyable finding hidden treasures and, through initiatives such as the MyFarm website, linking people with the land. Our brand heritage provides both advantages and challenges - everyone knows the National Trust's name, but we need to work more at shifting the perceptions of the full range of our activities. We are often seen as the stately homes people, so we need to reach out to a broader community.

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