The Tower Handbook
As ringers we all share the responsibility for maintaining good relationships with the communities in which we live and ring. We should help ensure people know about ringing. We should always project a positive image of ringers and ringing.
If you ring a sponsored peal or run a quiz night to raise money for charity, publicise it. Write articles for the parish magazine and tell the local press or radio. Many Parish magazines go to people with only slight links with the Church, and some are posted to people who have moved far away. The press cannot make headlines out of everything, but even if you only get a small mention on the 'local page', it all helps.
Talk to people. Don't hide the fact that you are a ringer. Tell your friends about it. Explain why it is interesting. Explain the sort of skills you develop. Tell them about the camaraderie, for example that if you walk into almost any tower in the world you will be asked '“Hello. Are you a ringer? What would you like to ring?”
Learn something about the history and wider aspects of ringing. Most people are as interested in that as in what the wiggly lines in the diary mean. Invite people to come to a practice to see the ringing and look at the bells. Be enthusiastic about ringing.
Welcome any non-ringer who enters the tower. People often do, especially tourists in a strange town. Publicise your events. If you ring for a special occasion, put a notice outside saying what is happening. Offer to ring for civic events (but make sure you arrange a time that will not clash with other outdoor events like a brass band performance!) Hold an open day (see below). Put a notice outside the door when you are ringing for something special, saying why you are ringing and (if appropriate) inviting people in .
Sometimes they can be, but it depends who you deal with. Try to develop a regular contact with someone helpful, and find out what sort of information they want. Very often, they like to include a photo, so if you don't tell them until after the event, you have already reduced the attractiveness of your story.
The two most common complaints are: 'they never print anything we give them so there's no point trying' and 'they cut out most of what we told them and the bits they used were misleading'. If you have the first problem, don't give up, but try to find out what sort of information they will use. The best way to avoid the second is to give clear information without excessive detail.
If the press or radio want to talk to you, they are interested and that is a good start. Don't be afraid of interviews, but make sensible preparations by answering some of your own questions.
If two of you are present, one can give the answers, while the other watches the reporter's reaction and intervenes if he or she seems not to understand.
The Central Council publication 'Striking the Right Note' gives advice on all aspects of public relations, including dealing with the media.
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