Communications, press and the media
If you are a member of the press and you have an enquiry for the Diocese of Bristol, please contact Ben Evans in the first instance:
Phone: 0117 906 0127
If you are a parish looking for communications support, then please see the advice, resources and guidance below. This has been provided to help parishes explore social media, use our corporate branding appropriately and to publicise an upcoming event. For further information and guidance, please contact Diocesan Communications Officer, Ben Evans.
In many ways, the Church is the original social network – it connects people and encourages them to participate and to reach out to others.
We can use social media and e-communications as a Church to enhance our identity and community, learning and communication, mission and ministry. But alongside these opportunities are also risks: social media increases and accelerates the positive and negative aspects of any communication.
If you would not
- say something in a public meeting or to someone’s face
- write something in a local newspaper or on headed notepaper
DO NOT put it online.
- Increases communications impact, scale, efficiency and immediacy
- Online and electronic communication enables you to communicate immediately with potentially large numbers of people. Technology makes it simple. There is no printing or mailing. You can share your message in powerful and effective ways and others can then share it and pass it on.
- Builds relationships and community
- Social media feels personal. It is interactive. It provides ways of connecting to other people in a communal way. It can be used to build the Body of Christ and include others. It is a great way for the Church to live out and extend its corporate life. As we express our life online, those outside the Church can observe its witness.
- Provides opportunities for participation, collaboration, feedback
- Social media is not purely broadcasting. It enables people to participate and collaborate together. There are great examples of how social media has been used for social change. It also provides an opportunity to get feedback.
- Reaches and connects with new groups where they are communicating
- Social media is a space where people who the Church struggles to connect with are communicating. And we can join them in that space. Social media presents ways in which we can engage in mission.
- Enhances learning and generates ideas
- New ideas and learning can be shared and explored through social media. Discipleship can be fostered and nurtured.
- Forming inappropriate relationships.
- It is perhaps easier to form inappropriate relationships using social media. Online banter and private messaging can both lead to a level of intimacy that you would naturally guard against.
- The professional distance that it is important for ministers to maintain can easily disappear when you are connected to someone – either at your instigation or at theirs. This is particularly important with members of the opposite sex, children and young people and the vulnerable. We must safeguard ourselves so that content could not be perceived as sexual grooming.
- Saying things you should not – with increased impact.
- Social media is public, permanent and has published status. However, people have a tendency online of being indiscrete about themselves, other people and, in our context, the Christian faith and Church. This can then be picked up and shared widely. There is a risk of illegal comments that could be seen as hate crimes, libellous, defamatory remarks etc.
- Our online behaviour and communication could be something that lets down the reputation of the church in the eyes of the community.
- Breach of confidentiality and gossip.
- As with saying things you should not, electronic and online communication can be used to breach confidentiality and spread gossip.
- Blurring of public ministry/private life boundaries
- The distinction between public ministry and private life is difficult to draw. This is no different online. There are risks associated with personal opinions being seen as public statements, a minister’s private life being invaded and the difficulties of detaching from their work.
- It is advised that ministers draw clear boundaries around their social media usage associated with their private life and use different social media for their public ministry (e.g. only use a Facebook page, Twitter or blogs for public ministry while keeping a Facebook profile for private life – see Social media tools).
- Bullying, harassment and malicious accusations.
- Social media can be used to bully and harass others and is a forum for malicious accusations. Young people are particularly vulnerable to this.
- Grooming and impersonation.
Publicising an event
If you have an upcoming event that you would like the Diocese to publicise, please contact the Diocesan Communications Officer, Ben Evans.
If your parish would like to discuss branding or managing corporate identity, please contact Ben Evans.
All Church of England dioceses and parishes can use the logos found below. Service sheets, news and notice sheets, web sites, stationery and external signage are all excellent places to make use of the artwork. External companies, or for copyright queries or to get hold of higher-resolution or vector artwork, please contact Ben Evans.
It is said that a picture paints a thousand words and it is certainly the case that a good photograph can say more than a whole website of writing could ever do.
We live in a visual age and people expect to see good quality images - whether that is photographs or video - on our websites, on social media and in printed publications.
However, you will need to make sure that you respect privacy and that no child or vulnerable adult is put at risk from the publication of these images. The issues are the same for still photographs and films; they also apply to audio clips of individuals.
Images count as personal data under the Data Protection Act 1998. It is therefore a legal requirement that the consent of the subject; an adult, who may or may not be vulnerable, or a child and his/her parent or guardian is obtained before the taking and using of images occurs.
- All images must respect the dignity of the person being photographed.
- Do not take pictures of children or adults who may be vulnerable without another adult present.
- If children are dressed for a specific activity in less clothing than usual, e.g. for swimming, then:
- focus on the activity rather than a particular child
- avoid full face and body shots
- consider the age of the children involved.
- When an image is taken for publication or distribution, those being photographed should be aware that it is being done.
- Awareness can be assumed if:
- people are attending a photo-call, or
- the intention of taking images is included in the invitation to the event and people are given the option of opting out.
- Ensure that any use of images reflects the diversity of age, ethnicity and gender of the activity.
- Ensure that professional or amateur photographers commissioned to photograph events are given a copy of this guidance and agree to abide by it.
Except in the above circumstances, consent should be obtained before taking and using images, and a chance to opt out must also be given. The consent of adults who are not vulnerable may be given verbally, for those that are vulnerable written consent is required. Children may give verbal consent, but written consent must also be obtained from their parent/carer.
Consent need not be in writing if it is not proposed to publish the images in any way; but if they are going to be displayed, used in a newspaper or magazine (including the Diocesan or parish newspaper or magazine), or put on a website, or other media, then specific written consent should be obtained.
Images should only be used for the specific purpose agreed by the person photographed. Written consent must specify what purposes the image will be used for, and how it will be stored, if not destroyed. If the intention is to use an image on the internet, this must be clearly stated at the time that consent is sought. Further written consent is required if images are to be used in other ways than originally specified.
For children, written consent must be obtained from a parent/carer.
For vulnerable adults, images should only be used for a purpose which is explained to them, and to which they give their recorded and preferably signed informed consent, i.e. they understand and agree. They should see the photograph before being asked to give consent. The person who obtains the consent should sign and give their relationship to the person photographed, and the name and address of the organisation for which they work or volunteer. If the vulnerable adult cannot give informed consent the images should not be used, unless the individual cannot be identified from the photograph.
As a general guideline, if the image is to be published, avoid naming the child; and if a child is named, avoid using his or her image. However, there may be circumstances where, with the explicit, written consent of the child and his or her parent/carer, it is permissible to use child’s full name, for instance when promoting a specific performance or achievement.
Adults who may be vulnerable:
Specific consent should be sought for images of adults where it is the intention to name the person in the image in an accompanying caption or article.
Storage of images
- Be clear about whether the image is to be retained for further use or destroyed.
- Store the image securely and in accordance with data protection regulations.
- Store consent forms with the image for future reference.
Images taken by participants
If, at a church-related event, children or adults who may be vulnerable use cameras or mobile phones to take photos of each other, or if parents or carers take photos of children or adults other than their own, they should be advised that these can be used for personal use only, and should not be displayed in any publicly accessible space, including on the internet or web-based communication channels such as Facebook.
Schools, including church schools, should have their own policies, which must be applied to the taking of images of children whilst they are on school premises or engaged in school-sponsored activities.
Legitimate journalism is a ‘special purpose’ under the Data Protection Act, which exempts it from the requirement of security, but there are numerous restrictions on photographing children. These are not likely to be relevant to church use, but advice, if needed, should be obtained from the Diocesan Communications Officer.
13 November 2019 In: Around the Diocese
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