Blinded by fear and resentment

31st January 1997 at 00:00
After 20 years as a local newspaper editor in various parts of the country, I can vouch for the home truths Hilary Wilce spoke in her "Last Word" (TES, January 17).

Most schools are incompetent in their dealings with the local media. Fear and resentment seem to blind headteachers both to the opportunities and the dangers presented by regional newspapers, radio and television.

It is no exaggeration to say that the media can make or break a school's reputation.

Good coverage, achieved by skilful use of PR, can bring thousands of pounds-worth of free advertising to potential parents.

Bad coverage can be more damaging than a fire on the premises. Everyone insures against fire, yet many schools are hopelessly unprepared for the public relations disaster that could follow a mishandled media enquiry.

For local readers, schools that do this well score points every week over schools that believe the media are only out to get them.

Frustratingly, the courses I now run for schools on how to get the best from the media are generally taken up by those least in need of advice.

Schools in most need of a public facelift do not appear to think they have a problem.

GARETH WEEKES Media Services 5 Ken Road Southbourne Bournemouth Dorset

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