Rough House has been working with the Institution of Civil Engineers for almost 18 months, providing media training courses for senior spokespeople. We are delighted that the Institution’s Media Communications Manager Emily Beadon agreed to talk to us about its media relations
Tell me about the ICE
ICE is the professional qualification body for civil engineers worldwide, with 80,000 members across the globe. We are seen as the ‘voice of infrastructure’ and act as independent experts to Government and other decision-makers. We have a dedicated media programme designed to boost the profile of civil engineers and the work they do as well as raise awareness of key infrastructure issues.
2. What is your role at the ICE & what is your background?
My role at ICE is Media Communications Manager and it covers external communications, traditional media as well as social media. There is a large risk/ reputation management component. My background is in media and external communications across both the private and public/ third sector.
3. How often do you get requests for interviews from the media?
Daily – from a wide range of media including national broadcast and print, trade publications and regional media.
4. Why do they normally want an interview, and who with?
It varies from needing someone with technical civil engineering expertise for example on the droughts we are seeing currently, to someone to talk about a new Government announcement or explain the main recommendations in a report we have published. Our spokespeople are almost always members of the Institution who have the technical background and experience to speak on ICE’s behalf or hold a specific role such as Chair of a expert panel or on the Presidential team. We have a database of spokespeople that we can use across different areas. The exception is for high profile reactive media work which is done by the Director General to maintain consistency.
5. How do you decide whether to accept or decline the request?
It depends whether it will meet our strategic objectives or not. ICE does not do media work for the sake of getting headlines – we use it as a tool to communicate our core messages, and meet the obligations in our Royal Charter to promote the value of civil engineering to society. If it is a good profile raising opportunity that will further ICE strategic calls then we will try to find an interviewee however if there is any risk to ICE’s reputation then we always decline.
6. What do you hope to achieve when members give interviews?
Ideally we want to achieve a well balanced coverage outcome that delivers our key messages and puts ICE in a good light.
7. How often do ICE members do interviews on your behalf?
It depends on what work is being done at the time to drive media interest ie a State of the Nation report or what reactive events are happening, for example flooding, which cannot be planned for. On average I would say at least once per week, probably more.
8. If a member does an interview, how do you prepare him/her?
We have a thorough briefing process whereby we give the spokesperson the ICE position on the interview topic (this is always based in pre-approved policy) and equip them with key messages to deliver, facts and figures in support of these messages and of course interview tips.
9. How important for the ICE is it that interviewees deliver ‘key messages’ during interviews?
Very – as I mentioned before we’re not headline grabbing, we are strategic and every interview is an opportunity for us to increase our influence and presence in the eyes of the public, members, media and Government.
10. When you do an interview, who is your most important audience & who are you trying to influence – your members, the public, stakeholders, decision and policy makers?
Really it’s a combination of all of the above and it varies depending on what the interview is for – sometimes we are very clearly trying to influence Government on a key policy area, or raise public awareness of infrastructure and its impact on their everyday lives. At other times we are working with key trade press that our members read to help communicate our activities to them and to the wider industry.
If you run a professional body, how do you manage your media relations?