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Media members waiting to comment

A HIGHER profile for the ICE could be the result of the continuing drive to media train civil engineers.

Latest figures show that the ICE stable of trained media spokespeople is nearing 100.

Following an advert in ICE News in February 1996, which appealed for media spokes people to come forward for training, figures show that almost 90 are now dotted around Britain, ready to comment at short notice on how major policy issues will affect a given region.

'When we want to pursue a media opportunity we look at our database of spokespeople to see who would be the best person to comment on that topic,' said ICE public relations officer Peter Griffiths, who has co- ordinated the project. 'It allows us to be proactive and put someone forward if a regional news story emerges which we feel we should comment on.'

The public relations office at Great George Street which controls all requests for ICE interviews throughout the UK, refers to a database of media contacts from the 16 local associations, divided up into municipal, energy, maritime, structural and building, transport, waste management, water, environment and sustainability, ground, health & safety, and management. Using the ICE boards as a guide for subject areas, many gaps have still to filled. 'We've written to local association chairman asking if they could recommend more spokespersons to be trained,' said Griffiths.

And Griffiths is planning to get out on the road to local associations with his mobile training kit to complete the map of spokespersons.

'If enough people want to be trained, then they don't have to trek all the way to London; I'll go to them with my film camera. I train them in basic media interview skills by setting up a mock interview. We then spend an hour and a half running through their performance on tape.'

The ICE is appealing for at least 50 more budding media friendly types to come forward to complete the network of contacts. 'The ability to be silver tongued and articulate is more important than being an absolute authority on a subject,' said director of public affairs Ian Moore. 'In the spirit of the Cawthra recommendations we want to increase the ability of membership to speak to the media.'

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