“Bear in mind, it is August,” said Simon McCoy, the BBC Presenter, whose unenthusiastic description of the second annual dog surfing championships in California went viral this week. Here was a man losing the will to live, and in desperate need of news.
August is a great time for small charities to give McCoy and his colleagues what they need – good stories about issues that matter. While Parliament is in recess and many politicians and major public figures are on holiday, the newspapers and tv channels still have as much time to fill, and with the greatest of respect to the competitors in the dog surfing championships, I can’t help feeling the charity sector could provide them with something a bit more important.
At the PSHE Association, August was always a great time: with the teachers across the country off on holiday, the office was quiet and in addition to preparing for the start of the new term in September, we would always make a push on media coverage. While Ministers were technically on holiday, it didn’t mean their advisors weren’t monitoring the news, or that they weren’t checking social media themselves. Indeed, a story which might have sunk without trace had the chance of getting traction: not just the original release but also potentially follow up too. Further, if you do a good job, you can build links with journalists and get onto the databases which media organisations hold, all of which means you might be contacted outside of ‘silly season’.
It’s nice to see sector colleagues who take this opportunity: this summer, I’ve seen the Centre for Crime Prevention, Mind and the Education Policy Institute getting good media pick up for important stories. It’s impossible to know, of course, but I suspect they got more coverage by releasing stories now than in September when Parliament returns and party conference season begins. So, my advice to charity leaders would be to remember Simon McCoy, bear in mind that it’s August, and get in quick!