Thank you for your interest in becoming a media volunteer.
Why this is an important role
Working positively with the media – newspapers, magazines, radio, TV – is one of the best ways to raise public awareness about miscarriage, ectopic and molar pregnancy. (Below, we use the word “miscarriage” to cover all of these kinds of pregnancy loss.)
It gives us the opportunity to:
- talk about how people feel when they have had a miscarriage – or when they’re trying again after miscarriage
- provide clear information about miscarriage: especially how often it happens, causes and treatment
- let people know about the Miscarriage Association – somewhere they can turn to for help
- encourage people to support our work:
- by donating money
- by offering time or skills
What journalists want
There are two main things that journalists are looking for:
- Information or comment: perhaps after a news story about a celebrity’s miscarriage, or about new research, or about poor care. In these cases, the M.A.’s Director or one of the Trustees does the interview.
- A personal story: either as a feature on its own, or to add a personal flavour (or case study) to another feature or news item or radio/TV programme. In these cases, we look for the right media volunteer.
A well-known actress has a miscarriage and it’s reported in the press. Other journalists ask the M.A. for:
- an official comment (the Director)
- a personal story of miscarriage (one of our media volunteers)
- a personal story from someone with exactly the same kind of experience (another media volunteer).
Local journalists (newspapers or radio) might want somebody from their area. Some might want a photograph. Some may prefer someone who had a baby after their miscarriage(s). They might want to talk to someone right away – or there may be more time.
They are also interested in:
- News: such as new research, or perhaps news about the Miscarriage Association that might have public interest (they rather like a crisis or disaster but we try to avoid those!)
What we are looking for
- We are looking for people (based in the UK) who feel comfortable enough to talk publicly about their own experience of miscarriage. (That may be the woman who has miscarried or her partner or both).
- We will ask you to complete a media interview form which can tell us more about you, your experience of miscarriage, what kind of media you’re willing to talk to and anything else you want to add. A photo can be helpful, but it’s not essential.
What we guarantee
- If you join our media volunteer team, we will never give your name and/or number to a journalist without having asked you first.
- We will never push you to do any interview which you’re uncomfortable with. We’ll either try someone else or simply tell the journalist that we can’t come up with someone.
Thinking of helping?
If you are considering joining our media volunteer team, I hope the following points will help you to make a decision and, if it’s positive, to get the most out of your interview/s:
- Make sure that your nearest and dearest is/are comfortable with you talking to the media. Imagine his/her/their response (or that of their friends) if they read about themselves without advance warning: “What do you mean, your husband didn’t understand?”
- Media people are looking for human interest (i.e. personal stories) and something to grab their readers/listeners/viewers. They will be contacting you to get these personal angles on which to “hang” the press release information they already have or to illustrate a piece they’re doing on something else.
- You need to decide in advance how much of your personal story you want to divulge, so that you don’t get drawn into saying more than you want.
- You need to think about whether this is a paper/magazine/programme which you’re comfortable with. If it’s one you generally don’t trust or dislike, then you might not want to be interviewed, or you might want to talk it through first with someone else. But:
- Don’t jump to conclusions about certain media. The Times and The Telegraph are just as likely as The Sun to get their facts and quotes wrong. Far more women read The Mail and The Mirror than The Guardian.
- Think about the interview itself: Would you rather speak face-to-face or over the phone? At their place or yours? Are you happy to have your photograph taken, or to be on camera?
- Be prepared for being misquoted in a press article, or “edited” in a TV or radio interview (the main advantage to live interviews is that you get to say what you want!). Try to be as clear as possible. If you say something which you then want to withdraw, say so clearly: “I’m sorry, I would ask you not to print that part” etc. You can also ask (or set a pre-condition) to see the text before it goes to print, though you need to recognise that most journalists don’t have the final say – the editor does.
- You may get drawn into a line of questioning that you’re uncomfortable with. You can simply say “I’d rather not answer discuss that” – even if you have to say it twice. If you want to play politician, try: “That’s an interesting question” or “That’s a difficult question” or “That’s an interesting point” and then move quickly to something you want to say: “I actually think the real problem is that … “or “I know that many people feel that …“ or whatever.
- Don’t feel you have to answer medical questions – in fact, it’s generally better that you don’t. Refer them back to their fact sheet, if they have one, and if they don’t, offer to ask Head Office to fax them one. You can also tell them they can contact Ruth at Head Office or their nearest Gynaecology Department for further information.
- Do avoid naming professionals who you feel gave poor treatment or care; we cannot afford libel cases! On the other hand, do give positive publicity to professionals, hospitals etc. who gave good care. And remember point (1) – don’t criticise your partner/relatives/colleagues unless you are willing to take the consequences…
- You are likely to be asked why the Miscarriage Association is important. Have a sentence or two prepared, e.g. “It’s vital to give people/women/couples in this situation support and information if they ‘re not getting it from those around them” – or something that rings true for you.
- If you’re not asked about the MA, try and plug it if you can! Remind them that many people need to talk to someone and get information and that we can help. (And you might want to point out that without extra funding, we might not be able to continue providing a vital service.)
If you would like to talk through any of the above, contact Alice at the Miscarriage Association.
And thank you.