Interview: Dipika Kulkarni

The communications officer at Providence Row talks to John Plummer about raising public consciousness of homelessness

Dipika Kulkarni
Dipika Kulkarni

Dipika Kulkarni is the communications officer at Providence Row, which runs a day centre for homeless people Is it more difficult for small charities to generate publicity? Yes. Our brands are relatively unknown compared with larger organisations, so it's more difficult to get our names out there.

- How do you overcome that?

By spending a lot of time following up press releases on the phone with journalists. Social media is really useful as well. Smaller charities are more flexible: we run a day centre, so we know our clients well. If journalists want case studies, we are able to help them quickly.

- Where do you secure the most media coverage?

Local media is perhaps the best because it is interested in local causes. We've also had some success with Radio 4's Today programme.

- Your charity's name doesn't say what you do. Is this a problem?

You have to make your name synonymous with the cause, but it is more difficult. We have to make it clear what we do in the first line of a press release.

- Is homelessness a difficult cause to sell?

It can be, but there has been a lot of interest in it recently because of cuts to benefits and local authority funding. There are still some attitudes about people deserving to be homeless - but we are dealing with people with complex problems who often have multiple support needs.

- What advice would you give someone who wants a career in PR?

Get on Twitter, follow people and build your own following. Read up on the subject and try to get experience volunteering in a communications team: in a small organisation, you would probably get to do more than you would in a large one.

- What will be the next big thing in social media?

Quora has taken off in the US and could do the same here. It's a collection of questions and answers, edited by its users.

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