C5; Media Policy
This policy prescribes rules for engaging with the media and designates authorised spokespeople for the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) for respective content areas.
The VFF works with the media in order to:
- advocate for the goals of the organisation and Victorian farmers;
- promote the work of the organisation and the achievements of the VFF;
- inform the public of the details of the organisation’s important issues and what is current to farming;
- assist in fundraising and income generation through membership or event ticket sales for the organisation; and
- represent Victorian agriculture and farmers as the industry’s peak body.
3.1.1 All VFF members including Policy Council, Commodity Policy Council and Issues Advisory Committee (IAC) members, Board Directors, Branch Executive members and VFF staff and volunteers must ensure that effective media relations are maintained in order to achieve the aims of the VFF.
3.1.2 To achieve the VFF outcomes this policy provides constraints to who can engage with the media and the matters about which they are permitted to represent or comment.
3.1.3 Only authorised spokespersons as set out in this policy shall speak or provide comment to the media on behalf of the VFF.
3.1.4 Authorised spokespersons are required to have read and understood this policy before undertaking any media engagements.
3.1.5 Authorised spokespersons must ensure they do not publicly criticise any position agreed to by the VFF Board, Policy Council or Commodity Group.
3.1.6 Authorised spokespersons are required to represent the VFF in a professional manner to the media.
3.1.7 VFF members may make comment to the media on issues in a personal capacity, but in doing so, must ensure they do not represent themselves as speaking on behalf of the VFF, make comment about the VFF, organisational policy, or in any way as being the official voice of the VFF.
3.2.1 The following are the only people authorised to comment to media, within their delegated roles:
188.8.131.52 VFF President – All issues relating to the VFF, its general agricultural policy, organisational policy and general issues as the principal spokesperson for the organisation. Where the President is unavailable, he/she (or the Board) may delegate a spokesperson for particular issues or topics. The President may also delegate local members to speak on behalf of the VFF, where local comment is required and encouraged.
184.108.40.206 Vice President – As delegated by the President or the Board.
220.127.116.11 Commodity Group President – On all matters of commodity-specific general policy issues and commodity-specific industry issues. A Commodity Group President may delegate their authority to another Commodity Group member providing the Media Advisor being made aware of the delegation.
18.104.22.168 Chair of an IAC – on general agricultural policy issues concerning the respective IAC terms of reference where delegated by the VFF President . An IAC Chair may nominate an alternative spokesperson. The Media Advisor must be made aware of the activity and the President approve the alternative spokesperson.
22.214.171.124 Branch Presidents – only to local media on any local issue that affects members of the branch.
126.96.36.199 CEO – All corporate business and project related issues in relation to the VFF, or as delegated by the President or Board. The CEO will not comment on general agricultural policy issues, unless by authorised by the VFF President or Board.
3.2.2 If a matter covers more than one commodity or issue, input is required from other relevant CPC’s or IAC’s and common speaking points approved by the President.
3.2.3 When a Commodity Policy Council (CPC) or IAC wish to support a ‘whole of VFF’ issue they shall seek endorsement by the Media Advisor and approval by the VFF President. These supplementary comments must support the VFF position and be made in conjunction with or following the initial comments of the original authorised spokesperson. Supplementary comments must not attempt to override the primary message and messenger in the delivery of the original comment.
3.2.4 VFF staff must not make any comment to the media on any VFF matter, including governance, operational, organisational policy or project issues unless authorised to do so by the CEO or VFF President based on their role, expertise, and the specific issue being addressed.
3.3 Media requests
3.3.1 Any contact or request by any media outlet received by the Board Directors,
office bearers, members or staff must be referred to the Media Advisor.
3.3.2 Prior to providing any comment or statement to a media outlet, an authorised spokesperson must ensure the following steps have been taken:
188.8.131.52 They must have consulted the Media Advisor;
184.108.40.206 They must have the required expertise to speak on the issue under consideration;
220.127.116.11 They must have experience in media relations; and
18.104.22.168 They must ensure they adhere to the VFF’s General Policy Platform and any approved talking points.
3.3.3 Where any of these criteria have not been achieved, no person may speak with the media until approved by the President or CEO.
3.3.4 Where comment is sought by a local news outlet from a local VFF representative, every effort will be made to provide a member who is able to provide comment as an authorised spokesperson.
3.3.5 The Media Advisor shall provide assistance to spokespersons to ensure that comment provided to media remains on message.
3.4.1 All media releases must be forwarded to the Media Advisor to ensure compliance with content and style requirements before being submitted for approval.
3.4.2 All quotes attributable to any spokesperson shall be verified with and endorsed by the spokesperson prior to release.
3.4.3 All media releases must be approved by the VFF President or CEO prior to release.
3.5 Talking points
3.5.1 On issues of general policy, official talking points will be developed by the General Manager Policy & Advocacy in collaboration with and relevant stakeholders and approved by the relevant authorised spokesperson.
3.5.2 On issues of corporate business or organisational policy, official talking points will be developed and authorised by the CEO.
3.5.3 Talking points will reflect the organisation’s official position on specific issues.
3.5.4 Authorised spokespeople and staff engaging with the media must adhere to the approved talking points to ensure consistent messaging and alignment with VFF’s objectives and values.
3.5.5 Talking points may be updated or refined as circumstances evolve or new issues arise. It is essential to adapt and customise these points to suit the context and relevance of each media engagement.
3.6.1 The Media Advisor shall coordinate all media activities for the VFF including the issuing and distribution of media releases, maintaining a list of media contacts for distribution, organising of press conferences, and shall be the first point of contact for media enquiries.
3.6.2 The day and timing of publication, media release, statement or comment to the media or publication on the website will be determined by the Media Advisor in consultation with the relevant authorised person.
3.7.1 Authorised spokespeople may engage in off-the-record or background briefings with journalists on issues within their delegated authority.
3.7.2 Policy staff may only brief or share background information with the media where they have been authorised to do so.
3.7.3 Authorised spokespeople must ensure the information shared is for context or background purposes only and is not attributable to the VFF or its members. Caution must be exercised to avoid compromising VFF positions or interests.
3.8.1 The VFF will provide training and guidance to authorised spokespeople and staff members on effective communication with the media, including proper briefing and backgrounding techniques.
3.9.1 Directors, elected officials, members and staff should advise the Media Advisor of any issues that are likely to be complex or contentious or to be sustained for any length of time, preferably before the issue becomes public knowledge. The Media Advisor will work with the relevant members and staff to draft a communications plan to address the issue that ensures a balanced and timely approach to keeping all parties informed.
3.10.1 All authorised spokespeople and staff members engaging with the media are required to comply with this policy and adhere to the established rules and guidelines.
3.10.2 Unauthorised release of confidential information or non-compliance with this policy is grounds for investigation of a complaint in accordance with Policy P2: Grievances and may result in disciplinary action, or sanctions for members in accordance with Policy M3: Member Sanctions, up to and including membership termination.
CPC Presidents and IAC Chairs
VFF Senior Advisor – Media and Communications
5. RELATED POLICIES / PROCEDURES
Policy G1; VFF Strategy and Policy Framework
Policy M1; VFF Membership
Policy M3: Member Code of Conduct