Mountain Rescue Magazine Winter 2021

MREW PR consultant and media trainer, Sally Seed , looks at some of the challenges facing our PR and communications in 2021. This time: Getting our message across.

Getting our message across is at the heart of MR’s communications but a few things need to be in place for it to be effective. We need to have the message as clear as possible and we need to know who it is we’re trying to reach so that we use the right channels to get to them. It’s a tough balance for each of the following challenges. Educating the new visitors to our mountains and moors Late spring and summer 2020 saw an invasion of the UK’s national parks by a lot of people who’d never ventured into the great outdoors before — or certainly didn’t appear to have much experience of it. Wild camping

reports online and Buxton MRT has produced several useful videos in recent months — could you share them? The Little Mountain Rescue Team (Derby MRT’s Lego specialists) create posts that could have broader reach if shared by others. We need to find new ways of making new audiences (potentially new visitors) aware of MR and that, at least, will give us a start on communicating more detailed messages. Reducing avoidable call-outs without wrecking our reputation The campaign around #BeAdventureSmart was designed to support safety communications and reduce avoidable call-

something’s happened that could happen to anyone and the casualty concerned survived (or was less at risk) because they had done the right things to prepare. Keeping it constructive when dealing with dangers Readers might have seen Glossop MRT’s media coverage around the risks of visiting Higher Shelf Stones in the Dark Peak to see the military plane wreck. Coniston MRT and COMRU (Cumbria Ore Mines Rescue Unit) have had similar issues underground with ill- equipped visitors to the Copper Mines and it’s all frighteningly similar to Patterdale MRT’s issues at the Priest’s Hole on Dove Crag since that was featured on TV. There have always been ‘black spots’ in MR patches but Instagram and other social media channels are attracting a growing number of people to selfie spots that are a threat to their safety — and to rescuers too. When you’ve no idea of what the terrain is like — or the impact of hill weather — or you’ve seen someone with no protective headgear spouting enthusiastic rubbish about an old mine or you’ve seen the great view from a spot that’s actually really awkward to get to, the temptation to see for yourself is too much for some people. Patterdale MRT has tried not to publicise Priest’s Hole, and Coniston and COMRU were keen to point out the hazards of old mines. Glossop managed to get coverage beyond the outdoors media for their ‘Instagram hikers’ and that’s exactly what’s needed. The team’s Facebook post after two call-outs to the same spot in one day included clear information and team leader, Patch Haley, put safety advice into simple language that also spelt out the risks. If you’ve not read the Glossop post, have a look back on Facebook and have a think about how you’d tackle anything similar. Explaining why ‘location’ is not ‘navigation’ Thanks to the marketing budget of what3words, this one crops up a lot. Richard Warren of LDSAMRA even got into a discussion about it on BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine Show. There are (at least) two aspects of MR’s concern about what3words and we need to keep a balance and make sure that messages are accurate for particular regions. In the Lakes, as Richard made clear, what3words can be inaccurate in about 20- 30% of mountain call-outs. That error could put a casualty in the wrong valley, on the wrong descent from a summit or even, as in one case, in the middle of a lake in the

Above: Teams across the country continued to be busy over the November/December lockdown period, and not just in the popular Lake District locations. In the early part Northumberland National Park and North of Tyne team members attended eight incidents over a two week period © NNPMRT.

became synonymous with tent-dumping and rubbish while ‘new visitors’ developed a negative connotation too. MR teams across the country saw avoidable call-outs that could have ended in disaster — poor footwear and clothing on steep ground, no idea of the time needed to complete a walk, no clue about cold and wet weather effects and an expectation that ‘someone would help’ if they got into danger. I am still not sure how best to reach these ‘new visitors’. It won’t be all of them but we need to try to educate and inform at least those who will be returning in 2021. There’s good work to be done with tourism bodies, accommodation providers, pubs and cafes and via social media but we all know that a lot of our effort is preaching to the converted. Video is likely to reach further than written

outs. Unfortunately, it’s easy to focus on the ‘you should be thinking about these three questions to stay safe’ side of things and miss the ‘it’s about making a good day better’ part. MR has to avoid coming over as a gatekeeper to the hills and we must make sure that people don’t just hear volunteers moaning about those who don’t know what they’re doing and shouldn’t be there. We’ve got to fine-tune the messages and emphasise that it’s mainly about people keeping themselves safe, comfortable and well so that they can really enjoy their trip in the hills. If you’re already finishing off some social media posts and news releases with warnings about weather, light, gear and navigation, it is also worth considering having a positive equivalent. Use it when



Made with FlippingBook - Online magazine maker