Interview: Charlotte Fiander

The head of PR for the National Federation of Women's Institutes tells John Plummer how case studies involving members help to gain coverage

Charlotte Fiander
Charlotte Fiander

- How much of your time is spent correcting misconceptions about the WI?

Quite a lot. It's about explaining what the WI is now rather than what it was once perceived to be. We will always be associated with jam and Jerusalem but we are proud of our heritage.

- Was the film Calendar Girls good or bad for you?

It was good in terms of opening up the organisation to a whole new audience. It demonstrated that women are able to go out and work on issues they are passionate about. Forty per cent of women join The Women's Institute because of the campaigning work we do.

- Which media do you target most?

The national print press is probably the main one we work with. The regional media is taken care of by our network of volunteers and local WIs.

- What kinds of stories get most coverage?

Case studies involving members' experiences do well. Everything we do comes from members' experiences: we have one main campaign a year, which is decided at the AGM, so members get to choose. This year it is showing our support for local libraries. We usually work on each campaign for a year or two, but it depends on how the policy landscape changes.

- What's your professional background?

I have worked in communications for Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and the Countryside Alliance.

- Which other charities' communications do you admire?

I have seen the current Prince's Trust campaign about a "lost generation" everywhere. It makes effective use of visuals and hits on an important issue of the time. The Refuge 1 in 4 campaign against domestic violence is also good. It uses social media well and the 1 in 4 statistic makes you realise domestic violence is likely to happen to somebody you know.

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