Meet communications volunteer Fiona Fair

I work in Tesco Ammanford and during the summer of 2018 Greyhound Rescue Wales were one of the charities taking part in the Tesco Bags of Help award scheme.  I am delighted to say that GRW won the large award, receiving the most votes from the public. I suggested to the store managers and GRW that we do a photo opportunity at the store with some of the dogs from Hillcrest. This took place in November 2018 and I wrote a press release to accompany the photos which I sent to the local paper, South Wales Guardian. We got very good coverage in the paper and one of the GRW trustees contacted me to see if I would like to volunteer as a press and media contact for the charity. I agreed and said I would be happy to liaise with local press, and any other media channels if required.

Since 2018 I have written press releases for many of the events and activities run by GRW, such as the Study-Aid sessions at Swansea University, the GRW Dog Show in August 2019 and other news that I think would make good stories that the general public would like to read. We have developed a good working relationship with the South Wales Guardian, and they always give us a good spot in the paper.

Obviously Covid 19 has reduced the number of stories we can forward to the press but we were approached by a TV documentary company in the summer of 2020. GRW appeared in the S4C series ‘Dau Gi Bach’. Essex Harvard and Jilly were featured in our segment along with Deb Fawkes Williams who was filmed at Hillcrest giving the background to the charity in perfect Welsh. It was amazing to see how the TV production company worked to maintain Covid 19 protocols and how much effort and filming went in to produce a finished segment of only about 3 minutes. It took a lot of effort to liaise with everyone to get the filming organised it but was too good an opportunity to publicise GRW to be missed.

The biggest challenge I have in doing this volunteer role is trying to find the right contacts to send press releases. The days of a reporter and photographer coming to an event are long gone.  So, it is really important to try and get a name and contact details for an individual reporter to send information to rather than sending it in to a News Desk which could cover a large number of newspapers and online sites. I guess one of the other frustrations of doing this role is that often you do not hear anything after you have sent a piece in, so you need to rely on others to let you know if they have seen it in the paper or online on a news site.

The most enjoyable part of doing this volunteer role is to see GRW featured in the local press and now on TV and knowing that we may be reaching people who will be interested enough to find out more about us and perhaps adopt a hound in the future.