Media Train Your Spokespeople

For an organisation that relies so much on goodwill, I could hardly believe my eyes while reading a story about the National Trust for Scotland receiving a multi-million dollar gift from an American benefactor.

79-year-old William Lindsay from Las Vegas had apparently committed suicide to escape going into a nursing home but it was the comments attributed to an NTS fundraiser in the US which left me perplexed.

Johanna Gurland is quoted as saying: "Like many Americans he had a fantasy of Scotland based on the movie Brigadoon and not much else."

Referring to the first call Ms Gurland took from the benefactor, she is alleged to have said: "We get these calls quite often. Most of the time these people are lonely and looking for attention. I was willing to talk to him, but part of my brain was saying it was another nut."

She is also quoted as saying: "If you saw him you wouldn't think he had a dime."

In the 18 months prior to his death Mr Lindsay had given nearly $4 million to the NTS and now they are in line for another windfall.

I am astonished at Ms Gurland's remarks. If accurate, they are patronising, disrespectful and insulting and are likely to stop other generous people donating to the NTS.

When it comes to the press we can all put our foot in it - politicians do it all the time!

There are, however, two lessons for all companies and organisations to be taken from this unfortunate incident:

•    Only allow designated people to speak to journalists
•    Ensure all your people are media trained

The NTS story was splashed all over the front page of The Scotsman. Click on this link if you would like to read the full story: http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/news/National-Trust-for-Scotland-left.6678496.jp
For media training, press office services and crisis PR, speak to Beattie Communications 0800 612 9890.

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