Communications: Media Relations

Effective date: September 30, 2011

Revised January 2018

Relevant Legislation:

Not applicable to this policy.

 

Intent:

LOFT Community Services is viewed positively by many journalists and media outlets as an authority in the field of mental health, addictions and supportive housing. The Agency commonly receives unsolicited media calls on a wide range topics. While the media, and in particular the electronic media can be a powerful way of relaying LOFT’s messages to the public, they must be handled with a great deal of caution. Reporters can be aggressive in their quest for an immediate interview and for a story which contains some type of conflict or scandal in order to grab the attention of the public. The most innocent of statements made to a reporter by a staff member may be turned against the Agency resulting in significant damage to LOFT’s reputation. In order to avoid this, any and all media spokespeople for LOFT will have received proper training on how to handle the media, and will be expected to have knowledge of LOFT policies as well as the legal implications of any particular issue.

 

In all cases, all contacts with the media are to be directed to the CEO.

 

Definitions:

Not applicable to this policy.

 

Policy:

Contacts Initiated by the News Media

If contacted directly by the media for interviews, materials or information, program staff are to refer the call immediately to their Program Director and CEO or his/her delegate for external communications. Staff SHOULD NOT talk with reporters, even in an “off-the-record” situation without direction from the CEO. If a crisis occurs in the program, many different reporters may arrive unannounced demanding more details on the story. Staff should not feel the need to respond to questions although they may be pressed by reporters to do so. While awaiting further instruction from the CEO, staff may respond by stating that: “I’m not the staff person responsible to speak on behalf of the Agency and that the best person to contact is the CEO and I’m sure he/she will be happy to help you”. A response of “No comment” is not recommended. Any contact with the media by LOFT during a crisis will require proper preparation and will be part of a carefully formulated action plan.

 

 

News Releases and Media Events

All news releases and invitations to the media to cover events sponsored by LOFT Community Services must be made through the CEO or his/her delegate for external communications. The CEO should also be notified in advance of events that may potentially attract media coverage. This is to ensure a consistent and carefully prepared message to the media. If a staff member has any special contacts or ideas in this area, they should contact the CEO.

 

When a staff member is authorised to speak on behalf of LOFT, it is important for them to be prepared for the subject at hand, to be fully aware of LOFT’s internal policies on confidentiality, for example, and to stay on topic. If an interview progresses to questions or a discussion of issues that the staff is not familiar with, it is acceptable to state that they can’t respond at the moment and that they’ll have to get back to the journalist on the points raised.

 

LOFT Community Services’ staff authorized to present at public meetings or conferences with media attendance should advise the CEO or his/her delegate for communications to ensure that any subsequent broadcast or newspaper article is not missed.

 

Letters or Articles for Publication by LOFT Staff

Staff members may wish to communicate their views on matters related to issues such as mental health, addictions, poverty, housing, etc. to the media in such ways as letters to the editor. Everyone has the right to express their own personal views. However when letters are intended to be personal, LOFT letterhead must not be used and the writers should not identify themselves with the Agency.

 

When staff members wish to write as staff of LOFT Community Services, they should submit their proposed letter or article (e.g. article in a professional journal) to their supervisor and to the CEO for approval in advance of the submission date.

 

Film Companies and Independent Film Makers

From time to time LOFT program staff may be contacted directly by a film company or independent film-maker wishing to film LOFT staff, clients or the interior or exterior of a LOFT property. They may be asking to do this for a variety of reasons, including as part of a documentary, or other type of film, for private or public distribution, or for the film-maker’s personal portfolio. Regardless of the purpose, program staff are to refer the call immediately to their Program Director and the CEO or his/her delegate for external communications. No type of filming may take place without the express permission of the CEO.

 

Programs are occasionally contacted by film companies wishing to park vehicles on LOFT property. This can be approved at the discretion of the Program Director. It is anticipated that the film company would provide a charitable donation as an expression of appreciation and it is appropriate for the Program Director to make this suggestion.

 

Procedures:

See program manual.