Interview: Richard Harrington

The communications manager at the Marine Conservation Society talks to Gemma Quainton about working to build public awareness of marine issues

Richard Harrington
Richard Harrington

- What's your role?

It's essentially a PR role, looking to build a profile and reputation for the charity. Our subject area can be seen as a little academic sometimes. But our collaboration with Channel 4's Hugh's Fish Fight, our work cleaning beaches with Marks & Spencer, and the constant media interest in our sightings of turtles, jellyfish and sharks show there is a growing interest in the sea and broad support for a better marine environment. My team's challenge is to keep this uppermost in public minds while we try to secure an improving future for our seas.

- What are you working on?

We're campaigning to get a network of marine-protected areas around the UK's coastline. Having been instrumental in getting laws enacted to achieve this, we'll be focusing on Scottish seas over the summer. We're also developing a network of volunteer 'sea champions' around the country. We'll be continuing to highlight the state of the nation's beaches and promoting the message that consumers can buy sustainable seafood too.

- What is your background?

I'm a marine biologist by training and worked on an island nature reserve. I've always been as much a communicator as a researcher, and I've found that there can be such a thing as a communicative scientist.

- What traits do you think are important in comms?

An ability to see two sides of every argument and take the view that every challenge is an opportunity; good planning, with room for spontaneity; willingness to try something creative; but, overall, a commitment to the cause is essential.

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

Support and interact with any charity you might wish to represent in the future - it is public perception that will matter to you when you enter the role.

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