Accessibility statement

Difficult situations and crises

Publicity is not always welcome. Nevertheless, we aim to respond to all types of media attention effectively, politely and promptly.

As a team of experienced former journalists and communications experts, the Media Relations team can offer advice and guidance about responding to negative, difficult or sensitive enquiries from journalists, or unwelcome social media interest.

If you have difficult news to break, remember that you are not on your own. We are available to help and advise in complete confidence.

How can you prepare in advance?

It is helpful to consider how to handle a story before it breaks:

  • Try to visualise how difficult, sensitive or controversial issues might appear to outsiders.
  • Keep an eye on what is in the news at the moment. The ‘news agenda’ could affect how much your story is publicised.

Crisis management

From time to time, the University is faced with an emergency or crisis situation. Inevitably this will result in heightened media interest.

Crises can come in many forms, such as the untimely death of a student or a member of staff, fires or other damage, or outbreaks of disease. It is important that the public aspects of such situations are handled by the Media Relations team.

The University has emergency protocols for dealing with incidents such as these. A dedicated crisis management team will be created to handle the issue.

It is important that messages to the media and staff and students are co-ordinated by the crisis management team.

Who to contact

General enquiries

Alistair Keely
Head of Media Relations
+44 (0)1904 32 2153

Samantha Martin
Deputy Head of Media Relations (job share)
+44 (0)7385341616

Shelley Hughes
Deputy Head of Media Relations (job share)
+44 (0)7384238992

Out of hours for urgent media inquiries only
+44 (0)7795 315029

What to do in a crisis

If a crisis occurs, you should alert:

  • the Media Relations team
  • your head of department
  • the Academic Registrar (for issues involving students)
  • Human Resources (for issues involving staff)
  • Security (if relevant).

Media enquiries and any official comment should be handled by Media Relations team. They will relay information to the University community.

Enquiries from the media

Journalists often have to produce stories about complex issues that are accessible to the general public using a relatively small number of words and within very tight deadlines. To achieve this, journalists often have to be direct.

The Media Relations team can offer advice and guidance to inform responses to approaches from journalists.

If a journalist contacts you directly:

  • listen, don't give an immediate response
  • identify the caller, their contact number and email address, and on whose behalf they are calling
  • establish what they want to know and by when
  • assure the journalist that you will pursue the matter and that a press officer will contact them as soon as possible
  • contact Media Relations (and your head of department) and agree on how and by whom the matter will be handled
  • discuss potential questions with a Press Officer and identify the key points you want to make
  • make sure that you avoid conflicting responses from within the department
  • remember that the journalist has been assigned a task, and is under pressure to obtain answers
  • avoid getting into a discussion with the journalist but remain polite at all times