What do you do and how did you get there?
I run the press office for the Methodist Church in Britain. Together with my fantastic colleague Karen, I am responsible for the Church's Media Service, working with a variety of media to represent the national Church and offering support and guidance to those working with the media on behalf of the Church.
I’m essentially an accidental press officer. I didn’t plan or train for a career in media relations, but I’m thoroughly chuffed to have ended up in one (at least, on a good day!) Theology has always been my first love and that’s what I studied as an undergrad (at Heythrop College – an awesome place to be a student). When I was approaching the end of my full time studies, I realized I would need some full-time work and fast. I was getting married, moving house and I really needed to be able to pay some rent and buy food. I stumbled across an ad in the Church Times for a Media Assistant at Methodist Church House (MCH). I thought it would be perfect for my mate Claire but she wasn’t up for it so I decided to give it a go and the lovely people here took a chance on me (Claire went on to work for BBC Radio Guernsey). A couple of years later, as part of a re-shuffle at MCH I was promoted to the role of Lead Media Officer. I have since completed a Diploma in Public Relations, so I’m finally qualified to do my job, which is encouraging!
What is the most exciting part of your job?
Getting out of the office and meeting Methodist ministers and lay workers and hearing about the work they do is what really sustains and excites me in this role. Anyone working at the head office of a national institution can feel a bit worn down and cynical from time to time, but meeting those who work with local churches and communities is hugely refreshing. Every time I meet with groups like this I come away with at least a dozen stories of the exciting ways in which we are participating in God’s work today. It makes you feel like the Kingdom of God really is getting a little bit closer.
What's your all time favourite advert?
I can’t think of a favourite ad, but my all-time favourite TV theme tune is the one that plays at the start of Have I Got News for You. Makes me boogie like a total idiot every time.
How can we help the church to engage with the media more effectively?
I think it’s a lot about how Christians engage with media personally as well as corporately. Many ministers, preachers and lay workers are excellent communicators – it’s about giving them the skills to carry that wisely into the media sphere. That’s where professionals like those in theMediaNet can really help. If you have skills in this area, can you help your local church or Christian charity engage? Can you offer training or do some freelance work that will help churches? I think once the Church (in the broadest sense of the word) sees that good media engagement requires a combination of common sense, wisdom and learned skills, it might take these issues more seriously.
Why do you think theMediaNet is important and what would you like to see it become?
When I joined the trustees, theMediaNet was just being born, but it had been a long time coming. It has always been a priority for us as trustees and it’s great to see how its grown and developed. It’s not easy being a Christian generally, but it helps when we find fellowship with people who understand the pressures we face in our work and calling to the media. Networking is important in our professional lives, so why not make it part of our spiritual lives too? TheMediaNet has been a huge blessing to me (and has provided me with a couple of really excellent colleagues). Long may it continue!