Who responds to media enquiries?
At present the majority of media activity relating to the Church of Scotland is managed by the Communications Department, with some activity devolved to Councils, Presbyteries and Congregations to enable a shorter and more effective line of communication when appropriate and to help ensure that all information and news is being disseminated at an appropriate level.
To facilitate the operation of this guidance, and ensure that the Church can respond effectively and speedily to enquiries, Council Secretaries, Conveners, Heads of Departments, the Principal Clerk and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland are the only ones with the authority to authorise press releases on specific policy areas or issues relevant to their area of work.
All media enquiries should be directed to the Communications Department, which will then advise on the most appropriate course of action. There may still be instances when it is appropriate for a Council Secretary or other paid employee of the Church to provide information to the media on operational or technical issues. This should only take place after consultation with the Communications Department.
It is always preferable but not always possible that a named respondent should be quoted - not a "spokesperson". However, where necessary the Communications Department will respond in such a way after consultation with the relevant parties.
We never give "no comment" as a response since we are an open and accountable charity and also because we do not wish to reject our right of reply. We should explain why we cannot respond if information is confidential, commercially sensitive or the subject of police, legal or disciplinary proceedings. While we may not be able to give specific information, we can still give information about our policies and procedures.
The Church of Scotland will, in order to protect its reputation, respond diplomatically but robustly and swiftly to any inaccurate information appearing about it in the media.
Off-the-record briefings can only be given with prior discussion and approval from the Communications Department, or with the approval of the Council Secretary/Head of Department if the briefing is being given by a member of staff from the Communications Department.
Councils, forums and departments must take care to ensure that employees and representatives who are in contact with the media understand that they do so on behalf of the Church of Scotland and only represent the Church's position in relation to any issue, and not their own. In particular, employees and representatives dealing with the media on behalf of the Church nationally must not give personal views which can be taken to represent the Church's views.