SMDF No 47 1 February 2015 WHAT IS THE REAL ROLE OF A

SMDF No 47
1 February 2015
The title to this article is one of the many questions I am asked and so I thought that during the
“quiet season”, I would try and answer it from my point of view – so here goes.
If you ask a dozen pigeon scribes how they see their individual roles, I would bet you would get the
best part of twelve totally different answers, so what follows is just how I see MY role and is not in
any way intended as a guide as to how to be a good press officer.
From my own point of view I don’t see myself as just a pigeon scribe but rather as one of a group of
people who comprise the Press Office. To me the Press Office is the hub of communications and
every Club/Federation should have one, with their responsibilities being to impart information to all
our sport’s target audiences – club/federation members and non- members, schools and other
institutions, together with the public at large.
The image of our sport/hobby is in our hands and whether it is by means of the written word or the
spoken message it is up to us to portray our sport/hobby in the best possible light and to educate
the ill-informed about the fabulous racing pigeon.
Our sport has been criticised by many who really know nothing about it but have formed their
opinions based on isolated incidents that they have read about in the media.
By and large it is not the sport of pigeon racing that is creating a bad image it is the irresponsible
actions of a comparatively small number of individuals who seem to be hell bent on bringing the
sport down. By comparison, the problems with raptors are miniscule and if I had the choice of which
I would get rid of first I know where I would start.
It is the duty of all those who take on roles as part of the Press Office team to combat those
erroneous bad images and use their positions and their abilities to correct the misconceptions with
which we are burdened.
I have recently given an after dinner talk to a local community group, based on the year in the life of
a racing pigeon, and after that talk I received many comments from people stating that their
previous impression of pigeons was largely that they were vermin but after my words they had
changed their opinions completely.
Lectures in schools, as part of the Midlands National Flying Club/RPRA Secret Messages and Flying
Back To Nature initiatives, have brought and continue to bring enormous rewards, not just to the
individual presenters and to our hobby but also to the youngsters to whom we give the talks. In fact,
several schools have already taken up the offer that we make of a mini loft plus some corn and a few
young birds to be located in the school grounds – positive messages to receptive audiences.
Secret Message ready for the off.
An additional part of the Press Office’s role, as I see it, is to manage and maintain the
Club/Federation website. To me the website is the most important means by which officialdom can
keep their membership fully informed about what is going on in their particular organisation and
therefore the responsibility for keeping it totally up to date must fall within the remit of those who
man the Press Office – after all they are there to communicate! I know I bang on a lot about the
Staffordshire Moorlands & District Federation website ( but it is
the only one for which I have any
responsibility, and no one can say
that it is not kept up to date as
can be recognised by the fact that
there are now approximately 100
hits every Sunday, Monday and
Tuesday or until the site is
updated with fresh information
or a new press article – who
knows perhaps I’ve got a fan
Finally, the Press Office’s actions
as far as the media is concerned.
By the media I don’t just mean
the Fancy Press but also the
social media which so many
people now seem to refer to for
information. The Press Officer
now comes into his/her own with
published, particularly during the
non- racing season, thought
provoking articles that put our
sport/hobby into perspective.
Flying Back to Nature Lecture
Articles which, although not to everybody’s liking, will stimulate discussion and perhaps bring about
changes to the way in which our clubs and federations are being run. Change is not always a bad
thing, but basking in past glories certainly is and can often create a laissez faire attitude which can
very often be to the detriment of the organisation concerned. However, regularity is the name of the
game. In my opinion it is not what you write (although it does help if it is readable) but the
frequency with which we write is of much greater importance – little and often is a wonderful adage.
Well, those are my thoughts on how I see my role as Press Officer, part of a team that probably has a
key position in any organisation and one that in most cases is carried out just for the love of our
Maybe after reading the above other individuals who hold official positions in their organisations
may like to let their club or federation members know how they see their roles (perhaps this could
be a good idea for the new officials of the RPRA after the February AGM). Why not send me some
notes and I will do the rest.
That’s your lot for this week – I hope you at least found it readable!
Brian Smith - Press Officer