Dismiss

Police force tells reporters to check social media for updates as it stops sending out press releases

Gwent Police has told journalists to check its social media channels as it will no longer be sending out press releases to the media.

In an email, seen by Press Gazette, the force said it would be posting all updates on Facebook and Twitter in future.

Any announcements or updates posted out of hours will only be available on Gwent Police’s corporate Facebook page, the force said.

It clarified that journalists would still be able to make enquiries over-the-phone or by email as normal – despite the change in press release policy.

 

The move has irritated some local journalists, including Caerphilly Observer editor Richard Gurner, who said: “This is a backwards step for Gwent Police in terms of media relations.

“Email is the primary communications channel for many news organisations and not sending out appeals through this method could lead to items being missed by busy journalists.

“Gwent Police is also often inconsistent with its messaging. For example, a recent appeal that was posted on Facebook wasn’t published on the force’s website. This needs to be addressed first for this new system to work.

“The point of a crime appeal is to reach the widest possible audience, so this move is counter-intuitive and counter-productive.”

In a media briefing document released alongside the announcement, Gwent Police provided guidance on the role of “force incident managers” and “force control room supervisors” taking media calls outside of opening hours.

It clarified: “Hundreds of calls are taken and logged by the force every day, there is always something going on across the force area.

“The FIMs/FCRSs will be able to give you information on incidents they have been asked, by an investigating officer, to publicise/issue information on.”

The Gwent Police Facebook and Twitter pages appear to be updated regularly during office hours.

A Gwent Police spokesperson said: “We are committed to continuing to provide a reliable, responsive service to all media outlets. 

“The approach we are introducing is consistent with that already successfully adopted by many other police forces.”

Gwent is not the only police force to have stopped sending out press releases through email distribution lists.

Nottinghamshire Police stopped doing so years ago, opting instead to send out alerts on its website and social media platforms.

In 2016, staff shortages led to the Gloucestershire Police press office refusing to answer phones for a week – asking reporters to email instead.

Picture: Shutterstock

Comments

3 thoughts on “Police force tells reporters to check social media for updates as it stops sending out press releases”

  1. This is an actual conversation I had with a press officer a few years ago, when I complained about them uploading a major murder appeal to their Facebook, but not uploading it to the online media centre for journalists.

    Press officer: At the end of the day, I have a target to hit, and that target is to reach X amount of people with this release. I can reach almost a million people within 48 hours by uploading it to Facebook, so frankly, you guys are not my priority.

    Me: Did you catch the killer?

    Press officer: No.

    Seen some absolutely staggering comments on Twitter today from press officers, along the lines of, ‘How ridiculous that journalists demand to be spoon fed by email because they are too lazy to check social media for themselves’. Such comments demonstrate an idiocy so colossal I can scarcely believe these people are in jobs. But then again, most PRs are just failed journalist scabs.

    Email is immediate. The job of the police press office, surely, is to get the message out as quickly as possible and catch the culprits as quickly as possible. The fastest way to get the press to fire your appeal out is to email it to them. That way it gets picked up instantly. Or do press officers really have such swollen egos that they believe journalists should spend all day, every day just refreshing the police Facebook page over and over again in case something gets uploaded?

  2. Devon and Cornwall Police also do not send out press releases via email. Journalists have to check the force’s website, Twitter and Facebook.

    I suspect this is the start of police forces communicating directly to members of the public via social media and cutting out the media.

1 2

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *