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The UK Church's reputation ‘under threat’ amid negative media coverage

by Premier Journalist

The sheer volume of negative media coverage is threating to damage the UK Church’s reputation.

That’s according to new research, commissioned by PR Agency Jersey Road, that has found that an average of 150 pieces of negative media coverage are published each month in the UK about the Church.

Having monitored the media from September 2021 until December the same year, the research found at least 460 separate negative pieces of print or online were published in the UK about churches or church leaders.

More than half of these (271) related to historic child abuse while others covered bullying, controversial comments and the Liverpool suicide bomber who had previously attended church.

Gareth Russell, Jersey Road PR’s founder and former church pastor, said the findings were “sad but not surprising”.

Jersey Road PR’s account director for crisis communications Sarann Buckby said: “It’s important that the Church recognises and owns its mistakes and it’s terrible that this is one of the biggest stories about the Church in the news today – the plethora of negative stories undermines the myriad of good news stories we have to tell.”

“From politics to high profile public figures, the headlines today are dominated by crisis, and the public want leaders who have the courage to be accountable.

“Too often in the past churches have failed to act and respond well to allegations of abuse, with devastating impact on both the lives of survivors and the reputation of the Church,” she continued.

In response to the findings, the agency has launched a five module e-learning crisis communications course offering practical guidance on how to prepare and respond to reputational crises.

Rusell continued: “The number one reason church leaders come to us for help is that they’re facing a media crisis, which can cause untold damage both to those involved and to the mission of the church. But there is hope, if they prepare for and respond to the crisis well — or better yet take preventative steps to stop it escalating into a crisis.”

You can learn more about the course here.


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