The Year Ahead: 2016 What To Expect - Communications

More press assaults, the lobbying act review and Sport Relief

Sport Relief: a chance to showcase innovations
Sport Relief: a chance to showcase innovations

The flip of the calendar will not magically iron out the creases in the public image of charities left by the revelations of 2015 - accurate or not - about aggressive chasing of donations.

Expect more reputational damage as a sceptical press digests the sector's attempt to clean up its act by toughening, but nevertheless retaining, self-regulation. Public opinion is unlikely to turn around quickly, and charity communicators are aware that they need to take every opportunity to combat the negativity.

One of the strongest levers of opinion is in the hands of Lord Grade, the interim chair of the embryonic Fundraising Regulator and, as a former BBC and ITV chief, a man with a strong media profile.

When Grade chooses to engage with the press next year, his choice of words will be key. But fundraisers should probably expect to be on the back foot because both public and media expect him to talk tough.

Campaigners should also bear in mind the publication of Lord Hodgson's review of how the lobbying act has affected third party campaigning. This is expected to be handed to ministers early in 2016, with publication to follow.

The return of Sport Relief in March should give the nation an opportunity to celebrate charity, and might showcase more innovations in the use of media and technology, as other appeals have done.

As ever, digital media expertise will increase in importance, particularly when it comes to social media and the power of images and video to craft stories.

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