Bad press equals stress is the message to come out of a recent
survey of that much-maligned group, social workers, and the solution
lies in better PR.
A survey conducted by the organ of the profession, Community Care
magazine, found that the perceived negative portrayal of social workers
in the media was having a detrimental effect on the majority of the
profession. And in part, the blame for this rests with communications
professionals employed to liaise with the media, respondents
A high percentage felt that those handling media enquiries did not know
enough about the situations they were discussing. Within local
authorities, more than 30 per cent of respondents said the main media
contact had ’little or no understanding’ of the work that was being
Local council communications professionals admit this has been the case,
but insist they are addressing the matter.
’You can’t expect a press officer to be a social work expert,’ says
James Flynn, communications manager at London’s Southwark Council. The
solution, he believes, is to train members of the social services
department to handle the media so they can deal with the press in
response to any specialist issues.