Do the Greens care about getting media coverage?
YES! True, Greens have no wish to court policies simply because of their poll ratings, or to woo media empires blemished by phone hacking and corruption. But, as a party, we also have no desire to turn our back on the media, which can provide a cost-effective method of reaching out to potential voters.
Do the Greens have press staff?
The major bulk of the day-to-day work involved in getting national media coverage – forming relationships with journalists, drafting press releases and quotes, scoping out opportunities for exposure – is carried out by our two full-time paid Press Officers. They are line-managed by another paid member of staff, our Campaigns Officer, and are directed by our External Communications Co-ordinator(s), elected internally by members with responsibility for helping to manage our national press strategy. We also employ a Policy and Communications Officer, who is available to advise our media team on policy matters, as well as a Parliamentary Press Officer who works specifically with our MP Caroline Lucas and peer Jenny Jones. Greens who have been elected also have their own office press staff – but, importantly, they are paid for by taxpayers and so are restricted as to the material they can promote. At every level, paid staff are supported by dedicated Green Party volunteers.
Is money the real barrier to getting heard?
Because the Greens don’t have rich backers like other parties, the salaries of our staff come from the membership subscriptions and donations of members and supporters like you and me. We are, therefore, ultimately limited by the amount of money we have. To compare, UKIP spent over £1 million on billboards alone in 2014 – more than our entire Euro election budget.
Why were the media talking about UKIP rather than us?
How best to respond to the rise of UKIP is an important
question – please check out the debate featured on the facing
page for more on this topic. But, in short, aside from their larger budget, a reply to this question could be: ‘For the same reason we are.’ If a particular party or issue is ‘the story’ of the moment, it would be tough to convince any journalist worth their salt to
cover anything else. However, it is important to recognise that we did get some really great press attention during this campaign. Make sure you are following the Green Party on Facebook and Twitter to stay abreast of our latest coverage – remember to share and retweet!
What can we do to improve Green coverage?
Our Media Team is currently working closely with Ofcom and media outlets to ensure we are maximising our media coverage. The most important thing to remember is that most journalists are nice but busy people who, like us all, are just trying to do their job. It is always a good idea to give your local paper or radio station a call and ask them how they will be covering an election, and gently remind them that Greens are standing. Send in a picture with press releases and even letters to help out understaffed news outlets looking to make their pages colourful. And always remember that news needs, by definition, to be ‘new’. Journalists simply can’t give column inches or airtime to the Greens announcing they support a cause in line with existing Green Party policy. Instead, try to give them something ‘new’ on which they can report: a piece of ‘citizen science’ research you have carried out, or a poll of local residents’ opinions, for example.
To help us continue to improve the way we attract press coverage, we are hoping to hold a fringe session at September’s Conference. If you work in the media and would be happy to pass on some advice on the day, please do get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org
Clare Phipps is London Green Party Officer in Media and Publications