Focus: Communications - Futurebuilders to donate media kits

Futurebuilders England is to give away 50 CD media kits to charities with an annual turnover of less than £100,000 that cannot afford dedicated press officers.

The kits were originally produced only for organisations funded by Futurebuilders.

But they were deemed so useful that the organisation decided to offer them to other charities.

The kits contain advice for charities looking to increase their profiles, given by journalists such as former Sky News presenter Lisa Aziz.

Richard Gutch, chief executive of Futurebuilders, says: "In our experience, when a charity is awarded a grant it wants to publicise its new service or project. But that can be more of a challenge for organisations that have only a couple of full-time staff.

"The kits are meant to help with both negative and positive coverage, because there might be times when sections of the media treat the decision to award a grant to a certain organisation as controversial."

Even for larger charities, a lack of resources might mean that PR is neglected. Melanie Matthews, a fundraiser for TB Alert, which has an annual turnover of about £250,000, says: "We tend to be more reactive than proactive. We managed to get on to the BBC's News at Ten recently, because Africa has declared TB an emergency. We could have put out a press release saying the same thing five years ago, but it would have been ignored.

"We are the only TB charity in the UK, so we do get approached by the media, but we simply don't have the stories that will make the papers. Organising big events or getting in a full-time press officer are just not priorities at the moment. We put out maybe two press releases a year, for which we would hire a freelance press officer for a couple of days."

The media teams at the wealthiest charities often outnumber the entire staff at smaller charities, so how can the latter be expected to compete?

"The fact is, they can't," admits Gutch. "The national media is always likely to be more interested in the bigger charities. But smaller charities might have more luck with local and regional media. The important thing is to try - all charities have their own unique stories to tell."

- To win a media kit, answer the following question in no more than two sentences: which TV or radio programme would you most like to be interviewed by to promote what you do, and why?

All answers should be emailed to cdoffer@futurebuilders-england.org.uk. The best 50 replies will win one of the CDs.

indira.das-gupta@haynet.com.

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