Category Archives: Media

Ethical public relations versus fake news

In a blog for the Charity PR website, Ethos public relations looks at ethical PR versus the growth of fake news.

Ethos PR 20th anniversary logo

For over 20 years, Ethos public relations has described itself as an ethical PR agency. We might not have known it back then, but what we were really saying was that we were against ‘fake news’.

In recent years, a number of things have contributed to the term ‘fake news’ being bandied about, almost every time someone disagrees with some information or an editorial stance. This is not at all useful and is only going to increase mistrust of information and expert opinion.

In the PR context, what we meant by ethical PR was not engaging in spin but focusing on the real news behind a story. For many clients, especially in the charity and social enterprise sectors, this is particularly important as they have meaningful stories to tell supporters and funders and we believe this is best done with real, honest case studies and stories that demonstrate the real impact of their work.

Back in the 1980s it wasn’t fake news that made us develop our honest approach but rather spin and ‘kiss and tell’ stories.

Unfortunately, the transformation to fake news from this was almost inevitable, and was supported in part by some bad editorial decisions by the media along the way.

It’s easy to blame editors, but a free media does need to be protected, although probably almost everyone working in public relations can cite examples of where really interesting, pertinent and newsworthy press releases have gained no coverage, while less socially useful information gets on air or in print.

Journalists aren’t social workers, but they do need to take a responsibility to their community and reflect what is going on in a balanced and holistic way. We have always subscribed to – and done our best to adhere to – the NUJ principles in our dealings with the media.

In a pre-digital age, it was true that air time and newspaper space was limited, but that’s hardly the case now. Real, good quality and verifiable news should be able to find an outlet on trusted media sites to balance the seemingly endless rise of so called ‘news’ sites peddling opinion as fact.

Big Society Capital invests £2.5 million in Charity Bank

Charity Bank logoBig Society Capital has invested £2.5 million in the share capital of Charity Bank and has committed in principle to invest a further £2.5 million on or before 1st December 2017. This will complete Big Society Capital’s pledge in March 2014 to invest up to £14.5 million in ordinary shares of Charity Bank.

Charity Bank, the ethical bank that uses savings to make loans to charities and social enterprises, has lent over £180 million since 2002. Charity Bank is run for the sector and owned by the sector, as all of its shareholders are charitable trusts, foundations and social purpose organisations. This further investment from Big Society Capital will allow it to make more loans to social sector organisations in the coming years.

This investment is made as Charity Bank experiences continued growth. Charity Bank has had a strong start to the year with £28 million of new loan approvals in the first five months of 2017. This continues the momentum since Big Society Capital’s initial investment in 2014, with the loan book growing by over 25% per year in the two years to 31st December 2016.

George Blunden, Chairman of Charity Bank, says: “These further injections of capital from Big Society Capital will enable us to meet the growing demand for loans from charities and social enterprises.

“Share capital is vital to our mission. It underpins the bank and enables us to leverage our savers’ money. An investment in Charity Bank creates a multiple effect – for every £1 of share capital invested we can lend £8 to help create lasting social change in our communities.”

“When Big Society Capital pledged its original investment, we said that we hoped it would be the first of a small number of significant new investors over the next five to ten years. The Mercers Charitable Foundation invested a further £1 million in 2015 and the Barrow Cadbury Trust invested £250,000 in 2016.

“We are inviting other charitable trusts, foundations and social purpose organisations to invest in our share capital and join with us in using the tools of finance to create a better society for all.”

Anna Shiel, Head of Origination of Big Society Capital says: “Big Society Capital’s investment in Charity Bank plays an important role in making capital available to small and medium sized charities. Over 850 loans have now been made to organisations totalling more than £180m. These loans have helped support people all around the UK, with 97% of organisations saying it has contributed to achieving their mission and 68% saying the loan helped them to expand their services. Upon the completion of our investment, we look forward to seeing more people and communities supported by their work.”

Twitter for charity

It’s not hard to do Twitter. But for many it seems to be fairly hard to do Twitter properly.

Twitter logoWe are not talking ‘doing Twitter’ in a way that will cause offence or get your account taken down, bur rather using Twitter as the two-way communications tool it is.

Many people, organisations and charities seem to see Twitter (other social media networks are available) in a static, dare we say old-fashioned way as a sort of online leaflet; as a simple tool to disperse information about their views, products or events.

But if you look at the homepage of twitter ( you will see that they say ‘Connect with your friends — and other fascinating people.’ Now, connecting with friends wouldn’t mean sending them one-sided messages in the real world, would it? Not many of us would stay friends with someone who just bombarded us with their views and didn’t listen to our opinions in return.

Twitter is a way of developing two-way conversations with your followers, who are often your volunteers, supporters or funders. But if all your charity does on Twitter is post messages about yourselves and you don’t take the time to reply to mentions or thank people for retweeting your messages, then this is essentially the same as sending out a leaflet or fundraising letter and then not answering when someone responds on the telephone.

For many charities using Twitter they may say that they do not have the resources available to reply to everyone or to monitor their social media accounts adequately. Obviously, all organisations, let alone charities, have to be careful about how much resource they allocate to a task, but no organisation would have a telephone installed and then just let it ring and ring without answering, would they?

Some organisations ‘get Twitter’ and are very responsive and monitor their accounts and reply to messages. Indeed, a growing number of businesses are using Twitter as a way to direct customer enquiries. People are increasingly expecting speedy replies to questions and issue that they might have and any organisation that leaves questions unanswered on social media are in danger of alienating potential supporters or donors.

Twitter for charity – How should it be?

Even some very large organisations and charities get this wrong, but the solution is relatively easy. See Twitter as another ‘live’ communications channel. Imagine the follower who tweets at you, mentions you or retweets your content is an actual person (usually they are!) and respond as if they were there in front of you or calling on the phone.

ITV scheme for budding journalists

Young people with the ambition to become the next generation of TV journalists are being offered the chance to be mentored by experienced ITV broadcast journalists.

Charlene White and Julie Etchingham.

ITV News presenters Charlene White and Julie Etchingham. Credit: ITV News

The Breaking Into News scheme, run by ITV News and the media charity Media Trust, is open to 18 to 25-year-olds from England and Wales and is specifically aimed at those without broadcast experience or media or journalism degrees.

Media Trust is calling for applicants to submit a short description about themselves and their backgrounds, an idea for a news report and why they deserve the opportunity to break into the news.

Nine finalists will be selected across nine regions and given the opportunity to work with mentors to develop their ideas and turn them into a news report for their local ITV newsroom.

The finalists will then present their news reports to a judging panel including executives from ITV News and Media Trust, with the overall winner receiving an iPad and the opportunity to spend the day with the team producing ITV News at Ten.

Rageh Omaar, ITV News correspondent, said: “I’m proud to support Breaking Into News. It’s the perfect opportunity for those who have a passion for broadcast journalism and need help opening doors into the journalism industry. I am looking forward to seeing the final reports and to be working with Media Trust.”

Katie Lloyd, deputy chief executive at Media Trust, said: “We’re proud to partner with ITV News to reach out to a huge range of young people that might not normally have the opportunity to gain industry insight and expertise.

“Media is a powerful tool that can be used to encourage and inspire. This initiative enables young people to talk about the things that matter to them most and get their voices heard.”

The closing date for entries is February 21 at 12pm.

To enter, visit