Thursday, 9 September 2010

What does an adoption and fostering press officer do?

 Jane Elston is the press officer at the British Association for Adoption and Fostering. She explains what a press officer in adoption and fostering actually does.

I’m usually one of the first in the office around 8 o’clock and, whilst I love working in an atmosphere of camaraderie and chaos that is the open plan office. I really relish the calm and peace of the first hour or so when it’s just me, my coffee and the day’s newspapers.

By 9 o’clock the phones start ringing. Along with the usual calls from journalists asking for stats or general information, there is always something that isn’t routine, with everyday bringing a different challenge.

On Monday myself and one of our consultants, have a meeting with a TV producer who is researching a documentary about looked after children. The producer would like BAAF’s input on what the most important issues are, especially as she is well aware that this is a subject that has to be treated with great sensibility and sensitivity. Through the press office, BAAF is always being contacted by programme makers of both fiction and non-fiction who are working on projects about adoption and fostering. Although BAAF won’t necessarily get a mention, we endeavour to help as we feel it’s important that the right information is given out to the public, and that the issues are treated in a sensitive way.

Tuesday sees me working on a pitch to secure coverage in regional press for BAAF’s new scheme ‘Adoption Champions’ as part of National Adoption Week (1-7 November). We have asked adoption experienced people to be ‘Adoption Champions’ and help ‘spread the word’. The uptake has been really successful and one of our fantastic media volunteers, a single adoptive mum whose daughter is now a teenager has signed up. She is happy to be interviewed by the regional press in her area so I have written a press release about our mum to send out to the local papers and radio stations. BAAF is so grateful to all our wonderful media volunteers who generously share their time and adoption stories with a wider audience through the media.

On Thursday it’s a big treat – I get to leave the office! BAAF’s Fundraising Officer, Daisy, and I go for a meeting with BAAF patron and TV’s favourite hairdresser, Andrew Barton, at his gorgeous salon in Covent Garden. Andrew is adopted and is a fantastic supporter of BAAF. He has very generously offered to host a fundraising event at his salon. It will be a glamorous evening with guests enjoying champagne and canapés as they have exclusive hair and make-up consultations with Andrew and his top experts. Daisy and I became very excited when Andrew, on top of all the other wonderful things he is offering to help us with, suggests that the BAAF volunteers helping with the event (i.e. us) should be given red carpet hair for the evening! BAAF is so lucky to have Andrew and all our other patrons who are so generous with their time and support.

As the week draws to a close, I am in contact with a producer from BBC Radio 4 who is making a programme about attachment disorder. As well as arranging for our Director of Policy, John Simmonds, to take part in the panel discussion, I arrange for the producer to talk with one of our media volunteers. They agree to do a pre-recorded, anonymous, interview about her experiences, which will be used throughout the show.

This is just a glimpse of what I get up to as BAAF’s press officer, but whatever I am doing, it is always interesting and incredibly fulfilling and satisfying. I LOVE MY JOB!

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