Communicating the livery company message better

CAROLINE DIEHL, founder and executive chairman of community and voluntary sector TV station the Community Channel, believes her roundel prize for being a top charity communicator (when running the Media Trust) is a reflection of the work of the charity sector as a whole, and makes a plea for the Glaziers and other livery companies to communicate more with the outside world about their role, including their charitable activities. This piece was written by Caroline for the Spring 2017 edition of The Glazier.

I was thrilled to be given the Clarity in Charity Communications award by the Company of Public Relations Practitioners, in partnership with the Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass, at the prestigious PRCA (Public Relations and Communications Association) City & Financial awards.
I was contacted “out of the blue” to be told I had been chosen for the award, and that the award was very much intended for me personally rather than for the wider work of the Media Trust, where I was then still chief executive. What a lovely honour, and what a delight to coincide with stepping down from my CEO role, 23 years after founding the charity.

Over the last 23 years tens of thousands of PR and media professionals have donated their time to train, advise, mentor and create content for charities, community groups and young people through the Media Trust, and it has been a constant inspiration to see the impact they all continue to have.
The PR and wider creative industries have unique power to give back to our communities and charities, and to change lives through sharing their brilliant skills, time and creativity. This is the simple premise behind the Media Trust.

The stunningly beautiful stained glass roundel that I was given for my award, created by artist Emma Butler-Cole Aiken for the Worshipful Company, is to me symbolic of the wider charity sector. Across the sector there is beauty, vibrancy, colour, creativity and inspiration, and at their best, like beautiful glass, charities shine a light on the most important parts of our communities, our country and our world.

Charities show us the worst of humanity and the best, inspiring us to see more clearly and understand those parts of our world that desperately need help, whether down the road from where we live or thousands of miles away.

They also open our eyes to the incredible commitment of people, many of whom are volunteers or low paid staff, who are determined to try to make a difference, to make change happen through campaigning, through changing policy and practice, through influencing, through giving help and advice, food and water, work and education, arts and creativity, sports and music, environmental and fair trade initiatives, and so much more.

Good communications

The legacy of good communications for the charities is obvious – clarity, reach, engagement, behaviour change, policy influence, more donors, more funds. But just as importantly the Media Trust has ample evidence of the beneficial influence of its work on the individuals and companies that volunteer their skills.

…the powerful and often high impact charitable work of the livery companies still remains quite opaque, perhaps in need of creative inspiration…

Interestingly, the powerful and often high impact charitable work of the livery companies still remains quite opaque, perhaps in need of creative inspiration from the Glaziers’ Company to create beautiful windows of colour and transparency that will shine a light on their impact.
I would love to see the livery companies opening up more to tell their stories, celebrate their history, their charitable support, to talk about the impact they are having today through funding and resources.

Livery companies should be talking about their impact going back often well over a thousand years, influencing philanthropy,
and underpinning much of the growth of the charitable and voluntary sector in our country – which stands out compared to similar sectors in other countries. Between the Glaziers, the Company of Public Relations Practitioners, the Media Trust and the Community Channel, which I now run, we could help the livery companies tell an amazing story.

Last but not least, while stepping down as chief executive of the Media Trust, I have the big challenge of taking the TV station into the next stage of its 16-year existence, now restructured as a new charitable Community Benefit Society.

Charitable foundations
Broadcasting free-to-air across the UK on Freeview, Sky and Virgin Media, Community Channel is now a co-operative, owned by 220 shareholders, ranging from broadcasters and charitable foundations to individual viewers and community workers.

Over 10 million UK viewers watch the channel, and tell us that the films they see inspire them to get involved in their communities, to change their own lives and those around them.

Thank you once more to the Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass, to the Company of Public Relations Practitioners, and to the PRCA for such an inspirational and beautiful award.