Saturday, 14 July 2012

Has The Voice paid the ultimate price by not engaging with mainstream stakeholders?

I have just been reading The Voice Newspaper has not been given accreditation to attend the media hubs based at the 2012 Olympic Games, like most people I was initially a bit shocked by this. Then I tried to figure out why. 

When I worked at a government department involved with the media around the Olympics we were all asked to supply names of key media and journalists to cover the games, we all did. The Voice was not on my list because after 10 years of working in government communications The Voice is yet to cover one of my mainstream campaigns and very rarely do they engage with a subject matter that affects everyone and not just people of colour. 

Could this lack of working with mainstream stakeholders be what is behind the unfortunate situation the paper is now in? With my day job hat on I never even thought of putting The Voice on my recommends list because they have removed themselves from the mainstream party.

I have contacts at every key national and regional paper in the country and none at The Voice.  And I am one of the few government communicators that cares about diversity and representation.

I hope The Voice win the appeal and I hope we all learn from this lesson; mainstream may not be your thing but it holds the keys to the door and you can't change anything from the outside.

And yes, today (18 July) The Voice now has it's access to cover The Games, I just hope the access does not detract from the bigger picture.
(20 July) And even better thanks to this posting and the online discussions I've had I have been approached by the paper, we'll set up a meeting - after The Games of course - and we'll work on making sure issues like education and access and achievement get to the right people and when suitable into the paper.


  1. An interesting observation I suppose if it was KFC instead of McDonalds and a LOCOG relationship who knows. But as your experience states if they are not engaged then they go unnoticed.

  2. Or should the question be: why don't mainstream stakeholders make more effort to engage with The Voice?

    As a PR professional, why DON'T you have a key contact at The Voice? Doesn't part of being a good communicator mean building and nurturing relationships? Is the onus on us or them? After all, it's PR/comms people who have a particular message to send.

    I wonder what The Voice journalists would have to say about being contacted by PRs. I hope they read this post and respond.

    I feel it's part of a good PR's job to pitch ideas that are tailored to appeal to a publication's readership. If you can't make a decent pitch then you've failed, not The Voice.

    Sounds to me like you're a bit peeved that The Voice hasn't been involved in your campaigns, and are now punishing them for it. It's that "you scratch my back, I scratch yours" "who you know, not what you know" culture that makes journalism and PR such monotone industries.

    The Voice is a black publication, and therefore its sole purpose is to cover stories that are not covered by the mainstream, or to cover stories from a different angle.

    To condemn them for not covering mainstream issues that affects everybody, as you outlined above, seems a bit redundant.

    PRs should see the value in engaging with The Voice in that that they speak to a very specific audience and help carry messages. If PRs don't exploit that opportunity, the shame is on them. They also have lessons to learn.

    Perhaps today might be a good day to pick up the phone and make some new contacts.

    1. I have tried to engage with the Voice for years. My campaigns have been high profile and award winnng so no sour grapes at all and for the record I called them just this week! I read the paper and I totally agree with you that The Voice should be taking issues and taloiring them for their audience. I don't think they do that well enough and I hear that from networkers over and over again. I attend lots of events and speak with lots of other PR's, press officers and key stakeholder groups, the feeback is pretty similar.
      I don't think I have condemed them at all, I think I have raised the issue of engaging with stakeholders and the importance of valuing those relationships. I would love the paper to be a leader in its field for being an excellent newspaper not just for being a black newspaper.
      As I said, I hope they win the appeal - I want them to cover the Games too.

  3. You have a point, however, I believe you should engage with them, and include them on any PR list. Then if they feel the topic is of value to their niche, they will follow it up. Thankfully, the update is now that they have been included on the accreditation list for the Olympic stadium.

    1. Hi Dawn, I agree with you, but I also expect a good paper to respond to invitations and press releases and to pick up copy from the Press Association and Reuter's.

  4. And yes, The Voice now has it's access to cover The Games, I just hope the access does not detract from the bigger picture.