Interview: Stuart Goodwin

The head of PR at Swanswell, the £6m drug and alcohol addiction charity, talks to John Plummer about moving from breaking news to making it

Stuart Goodwin
Stuart Goodwin

- You used to be a journalist. When and why did you move to PR?

I switched in 2008. I had spent a good few years breaking the news and I fancied a change - I wanted to be making news and setting up stories that could make a difference to people's lives.

- You previously worked in council PR. How different did you find that from charity PR?

They're similar. The voluntary sector can react more quickly to national news.

- The name Swanswell doesn't explain what the charity does. Does that make it harder to get coverage?

Our service users have said they don't necessarily want the name of the charity to be obvious. A lot of people come to us because they don't want it widely known they are seeking treatment for addiction to drugs or alcohol. I don't think it's a problem - if you have something useful, relevant and different to say, people will listen to you regardless of your name.

- A lot of people think addiction services are run by the public sector. Does this present PR difficulties?

Most people support the cause, but not necessarily the delivery. As long as people trust what we do, and we do it well, it doesn't cause us too much difficulty. I don't know how important it is to say we are a charity.

- Which media do you target?

A lot of the work we do is at local and national level, so more often than not we use traditional media. We are looking at other ways of getting the message across. We are looking at guerrilla marketing. We have something lined up in Barnsley to raise awareness of our care and support services, but of course I can't say anything about it.

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