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Baptist Churches miss big opportunity

11 December 2014

Baptist Churches of New Zealand missed a huge opportunity this week to distance themselves from Pastor Logan Robertson’s comments about gays, and promote themselves at the same time.

You will remember Robertson’s derogatory comments earlier this week, suggesting gay people commit suicide. He is Pastor of the Westcity Bible Baptist Church.

Robertson is not a member of Baptist Churches of New Zealand, but this was only found out when a few media organisations contacted the group to find out. Only people who frequent those few outlets will know that.

So what should Baptists Churches of New Zealand have done? Firstly, they should have put a statement on their website distancing themselves from Robertson. Then if anyone went to their website to see if they were part of the same group, they would be told immediately.

The next thing they should have done was send their statement to all major media in New Zealand. Then they would have been mentioned through many more media outlets than eventuated. Then far more people would know Robertson was not speaking for all Baptists in New Zealand.

We find in our media training sessions that many leaders see media interviews as threats. But in this case, if releasing a statement to media led to more interviews and media coverage, that would have turned a negative story into a positive one for Baptist Churches of New Zealand.

That’s because not only would they be able to distance themselves from this hateful language, they would gain masses of publicity for their Churches. Money could never buy that sort of publicity. They may well have seen their congregations grow. But because so many people will now assume they are all of the same views, many will dismiss Baptist Churches as a viable religious option.

I’m not sure where real Baptists stand on same sex issues, but I know they condemned Robertson’s words. I know that because I scrolled through lots of media websites to find the few journalists who had asked that question.

This is a great example of how a negative issue can be turned around. But equally, it shows how lack of action can see opportunities lost.

For more on my media training or crisis communication workshops, contact pete@mediatrainingnz.co.nz or phone 029 200 8555

Written by

Pete is a leading New Zealand media trainer and regular blogger for his company, Media Training NZ . He has helped leaders from all sectors of society communicate with the media and other stakeholders. Pete is a former daily newspaper reporter and press secretary in the New Zealand government. From these roles, he understands the media process from both sides of the camera.

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