Dealing With Media Enquiries
Child abuse is an issue which will quite correctly generates media interest. The RFU has developed a comprehensive programme to ensure that all who deal with young people are provide with the expertise to undertake their role in a correct and professional manner.
BRFC will ensure that all enquiries from the media are dealt with jointly by the Chairmen, Vice Chairman and the Honorary Secretary and when involving youth players, the Club Safeguarding Officer. Advice and guidance will be sought from the RFU Press Officer whose contact details are available from the RFU Website.
If the BRFC is aware of an allegation of child abuse, then the RFU Press Officer is to be contacted at the earliest opportunity to ensure that the club is prepared for any approaches from the Press. It is important to remember that any incident could generate a large amount of media coverage no matter how minor the incident may be.
The RFU/RFUW media team can help when dealing with media enquiries. However, we as a club must ensure that the initial enquiry is handled in a way that does not aggravate the situation or generate negative publicity. It is also important to be aware of legislation that prevents the naming of children and young people in the media.
The RFU/RFUW is committed to investigating all allegations, the potential damage the publication of false allegations can do to an individual or club should not be underestimated.
The Club Chairmen, Vice Chairman and the Honorary Secretary of BRFC have been appointed to handle media enquiries.
If any member of the administrative or coaching staff knows of an allegation of child abuse they are to inform the officers named above in order that they can be prepared in advance for potential publicity.
Contact is to be made with the RFU Press Officer and give them all the details.
Do not hide anything or pretend the situation is not as serious as it is or might become. The press can put a large headline on even the smallest story and it is important that the RFU PO is aware of all the details.
What to do when approached or contacted by a journalist
A journalist may hear of an alleged case of abuse from a source or directly from a relative or acquaintance of the alleged victim.
They are likely to try a number of different approach avenues to gain a response. It is worth remembering that a journalist may already have a story mapped out in their own mind so what you say, and how you say it, is important.
If any official of BRFC is approached by a member of the media, they ensure that:
They clearly hear the name of the reporter. If you are unsure of the name, ask for it to be repeated. These details should be written down for future reference.
Ensure that you clearly understand the question they are asking. The question(s) should also be recorded or written down.
Do not respond to any media enquiry by saying NO COMMENT. This response gives the impression that you are being guarded and have something to hide.
Request that they provide you with a contact number where they can be easily contacted and what the deadline time is on their article.
Immediately contact the Chairmen, Vice Chairman or Honorary Secretary.
The Chairmen, Vice Chairman or Honorary Secretary are to notify the RFU Press Officer to discuss the media approach and inform the Club Safeguarding Officer.
Once the RFU Press Officer has been notified they will contact the RFU Safeguarding Team to formulate an appropriate response.
The club will be notified by the RFU Press Officer of the response which is issued on behalf of the club.
It is important to remember that stories of child abuse are rarely a one day story and the club as a whole must be prepared for a number of approaches from the media. Therefore, any subsequent media enquiries are to be dealt with in the same manner as the initial enquiry and contact the RFU Press Officer sould be maintained.
It is vital that all concerned with BRFC are aware of a media attempt to gain an “off the record” comment. Journalists use this tool to get more information but with the undertaking that they will not publish what you say.
Do not speak off the record in any situation involving child protection issues. All coaches and administrative staff are to refer any media enquiries to the nominated press officers no matter how many approaches are made.