The National Council for Voluntary Organisations has not been able to find a suitable candidate to take on the newly created role of media network coordinator, the umbrella body has said.
In May, the NCVO said it was creating the role to help charities promote stories about their activities to the mainstream media and piggyback on the news agenda. The closing date for the job, which offered a salary of £38,000, was 8 June.
But Chloe Stables, external relations manager at the NCVO, told Third Sector that a suitable candidate had not been found and it would review the recruitment process. Stables said: "We’re going to take stock and check to see if the job description is as it should be and whether we can find someone who is going to fulfil those requirements."
She said the NCVO expected to start recruitment for the post soon.
The NCVO originally said in January that it planned to spend £50,000 on exploring the concept of a charity sector newsroom that would encourage the media to cover stories about charities more frequently and in a more positive way.
Stables said the body had since decided to put the money towards paying someone to establish a network of charities and develop and consolidate materials they could use when communicating with the media.
Stables said the NCVO had opted to appoint an individual rather than set up a newsroom because it represented the best use of money and the option most likely to benefit the body’s members.
Martyn Lewis, chair of the NCVO, said last year that he wanted the newsroom to be staffed by "ex-Fleet Street hacks". According to a source close to the situation, the difficulty in finding the right candidate might be due to a shortage of applications from former national newspaper journalists.
Ron Finlay, founder of the cross-sector PR consultancy Ron Finlay Communications, said the creation of a media network coordinator sounded like a good idea but he questioned whether the person would be senior enough to make a difference.
"The thing that is going to change perspectives is getting good, strong chief executives into high-profile interviews on the BBC and in The Guardian and the Daily Mail." He said he was unsure whether a coordinator earning £38,000 would have enough clout.
Ian MacQuillin, director of Plymouth University’s fundraising think tank Rogare, said it would be wrong for the NCVO to hire someone to rewrite charities’ press releases – something the body had previously said its charity sector newsroom would do. But he said that having a relationship manager who could direct journalists to sector spokespeople would be a good thing.
Stables said the media network coordinator would help to put journalists in contact with relevant charities for sector-wide stories such as concerns about chief executives’ salaries, but not for cause-specific stories.