Stephen Clark on the #notdingy sector…

Last week the PR Fraternity got to meet Stephen Clark, Senior Media & PR Officer for Hospice UK. Although coming from an English degree background, Stephen ‘fell into’ the interesting and professional charity sector through the necessary evil of interning (yep, we all know it well – working for free).

Stephen talked to us about his job role, working within the sector, telling your story and of course gave us some brilliant advicekeep reading!

Working for stakeholders and always following your organisation’s priorities of what needs to be achieved is imperative. A PR’s job is to do all of this, and creatively set about achieving the set objectives.

“You’re working to change lives, not lifestyle choices”

Working in the charity sector means that every issue has to be really thought about, but this is really motivating and feels like you’re a part of social change. However, with this comes a crisis comms perspective, a huge amount of responsibility and a competitive crossover which can either be proactive or reactive.

“Doing good work won’t necessarily give you a good reputation”

Of course though, there are lots of amazing opportunities that come with working in the sector – there are 160,000 registered charities in the UK which leads to an incredible network of contemporaries. You also have more than just your brand behind you – there are ambassadors and champions for the organisation too, and sometimes they just need reaching out to (they do want to hear from you!)

On internal comms, Stephen let us know that with an externally facing organisation this type of communication can be quickly forgotten, and the trick is to take everyone along with you – don’t assume that they don’t want to know (because they probably do!)

Telling your story is absolutely key in this sector – if you try to pitch a story with no case study or personal angle, then there will simply be no take up. It’s also OK to reach out to a new audience too – even if they don’t know that they want to know, or have the wrong ideas then that’s OK too – it’s an opportunity!

Journalists can over sensationalise stories, but at the same time if you’re really pulled into a cause then there’s no reason you shouldn’t run with it and push your response, even if it isn’t your own story!

We’ve all seen third sector campaigns like DRYATHLON, MOVEMBER and DECEMBEARD, but the sector is competitive and hard work – the stories aren’t always positive. For example, the #notdingy social media campaign has been recently evoked due to comments made by none other than BBC soap dramas about hospice care being “dingy” and “grotty”. Here at the Fraternity we think Hospice UK do an incredible job, and we’d love you to judge this for yourselves by taking a look at their website.

An enormous thanks must go to Stephen for taking time out of his busy schedule to come and talk to us, and we were definitely inspired by third sector PR!




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