Anna de Vries, deputy head of media at the Metropolitan Police, said: “We deal with quite complex areas and you can’t expect someone to report fairly unless you have taken the trouble to explain it to them.”
Also see: The thin PR line – inside the Met Police’s crack comms squad
De Vries said an example of this was the Grenfell fire in the summer, during which the comms team had helped the media to understand the identification process and how police were searching the tower.
She added: “Putting the time and effort into helping the media understand how we do things and why we do them helps them report fairly or ask us challenging questions from a position of strength.”
De Vries, along with Ed Stearns, head of media at the Met, and Yvonne O’Hara, head of internal comms, spoke to PRWeek as part of a wide-ranging interview on the force’s media, digital and comms operation.
Putting the time and effort into helping the media understand how we do things and why we do them helps them report fairly or ask us challenging questions from a position of strength.
Anna de Vries, deputy head of media at the Metropolitan Police
Stearns said he thought the media treated the Met fairly and professionally in most cases.
He said: “They are there to hold us to account, quite rightly. I can count on one hand the number of official complaints we’ve made about things which have gone badly wrong.”
Stearns thought the way the majority of the media dealt with the Met enabled trust.
He said: “We’re happy for our officers to talk directly to the media and we wouldn’t do that if we didn’t think we had a relationship that would result in fair and balanced reporting. There has to be trust on both sides for that to happen.”
Read next: Inside the Met Police comms response to the Westminster attacks
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