Interview: Neil Cox

The communications manager at Combat Stress tells Gemma Quainton that the build-up to Armistice Day brings a surge of press attention

Neil Cox
Neil Cox

- What are your main media outlets?

We have a partnership with The Daily Telegraph, mainly because its readers have a lot of sympathy for military charities like ours, and this has raised awareness of the cause. We have had coverage in other national papers, as well as local and regional newspapers and radio stations.

- What are the main challenges in your job?

We often find it hard to give the media exactly what it wants. The men and women whom Combat Stress treats and supports often have horrendous, life-ruining mental health problems. For some of them, even leaving their own home is a huge ordeal, so talking frankly to a journalist and agreeing to be photographed is impossible. This means that we can't always find a suitable veteran in time for a particular media outlet.

- What do you most enjoy about the role?

The sheer variety is hard to beat. There's never a dull moment. My team of three handles pretty much all of Combat Stress's communications output, from the website and social media to PR and production of the annual review.

- What campaigns are you currently working on?

We're gearing up for Armistice Day on 11 November. It's a time when people think more about those who are serving in the military or have done so in the past, so we're expecting many calls from the media. We've also been working with the actor Ross Kemp on a TV documentary - to be broadcast on 12 November on Sky 1 - which we hope will take the issues we deal with to a wider audience.

- What advice would you give someone wanting to work in charity communications?

Talk to people and do research before taking action. Over my 15-year career, I've observed that many have views about what communication activity works and what doesn't, but often it's no more than their opinion.

Neil Cox is communications manager at Combat Stress, the mental health charity for veterans

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