Community Relations Council
Communications Committee Meeting
15 September 2005, 1.30 pm, at the Junction, L'Derry.
Present: Maureen Hetherington (Chair), Michael Wardlow, Frances McCandless.
In attendance: Duncan Morrow, Maurna Crozier, Ray Mullan.
Apologies were received from Robin Wilson.
The minutes of the previous meeting (19 April 2005) were approved after correction to the date referred to in item 3 (which should have read December 2004).
3. Matters Arising:
It was noted that with the departure of Eamonn McCartan and Malachi O'Doherty from the committee there was a need for two new members. Several names were discussed with the gender and community balance of the committee in mind and the need for the committee in to bring in skills related to visual arts and the media. The Communications Director was authorised to approach named individuals to become committee members and, if they agreed, to submit their names to Council for approval.
4. Promoting Key Messages:
The committee discussed a paper from Robin Wilson ('CRC communications strategy: filling out the key messages'29/08/05) which he had produced at the request of the Chair and the Communications Director. Duncan (CEO) outlined the dilemma for the Council in taking forward a major communications strategy in the short term. The Government may be planning to run its own anti-sectarian campaign, together with a re-launch of the Shared Future strategy. The One Small Step Campaign also wish to renew their campaign with government support. In the meantime CRC has no budget for any significant advertising campaign.
It was however agreed by the committee that a low cost communications strategy could be planned by CRC based on a media campaign using media champions to promote CRC's key messages and to encourage government to raise the profile of the Shared Future strategy. This would involve press articles and broadcast items by media commentators and other individuals commanding public attention who could be recruited as champions. This should have a regional spread. Ideally we would aim to secure at least one significant article or broadcast item per month. The Communications Director agreed to draw up an action plan and guidelines for the media champions.
It was agreed that the language used in the media campaign should be around 'Shared Future' rather than 'Community Relations' in order to take advantage of the government's initiative. In order to lobby government to give 'Shared Future' greater priority and prominence it was suggested that CRC initiate a letter campaign to the Minister and encourage the asking of parliamentary questions.
5. Community Relations Week
The Communications Director informed the committee that CRC would be co-ordinating a Community Relations Week in 2006 in the last week of April (beginning 24 April) after Easter but prior to the May Bank Holiday. There was some discussion on this and it was agreed that the important thing was to get the message out to other organisations to encourage them to start planning their own events now. It was suggested that the theme should be 'A Shared Future'.
6. CRC Research Journal
Copies of the first issue of Shared Space, CRC's research journal, were issued to the committee. The journal was due to be officially launched at CRC on 27 September. The next issue was planned for the spring of 2006. The committee was informed that the first few issues of the journal would be an opportunity to disseminate research findings arising from work funded by CRC, particularly the EU Peace Programme. Thereafter the journal would be open to relevant research articles from other sources. At that point an editorial advisory panel would be established in partnership with outside agencies. The committee were invited to supply names to be added to the journal mailing list.
7. Publications Grants update
The committee was given an update on grants awarded so far this year and those currently under consideration. An application from St.Columb's Park House (for an executive summary of 'Population Change and Social Inclusion Study- Derry/L'Derry') was presented to the committee for urgent decision since the applicants were planning to print the following day. Maureen Hetherington and Duncan Morrow, who both had an involvement in the project, left the meeting at this point and were not present for the discussion or decision. An e-mail opinion from Robin Wilson was also conveyed to the meeting. The committee agreed to fund the publication for the full amount requested (£3,920).
8. Date of next meeting
The next meeting was due in December. Date options would be circulated to committee members by e-mail after consulation with the Chair.