Ex-Metropolitan Police press officer discusses career with DMU students

by Cristina Olaru

A former Metropolitan Police press officer gave De Montfort University students an insight into the relationship between press officers and journalists.

Will Goddard spoke on the topic of ‘Killing the Story – The Art of Being a Police Press Officer’.

Professor Jason Lee introduced Mr Goddard, who then outlined his career in PR and media relations over 25 years before a Question and Answer session.

He jumped into his media career from academia, specialising in Spanish minority languages and dialect, describing his decision as being motivated by wanting to work in the real world’.

His experience in media includes in-house roles with government agencies, local government, and London agencies. He was a press officer with the Metropolitan Police in Harrow between 2005 and 2016.

Mr Goddard opened the evening by talking about the importance of public communications which he said cannot be done by following policy on a piece of paper, but rather should be based on experience and common sense.

He said: “One of the things we didn’t have was a communications plan because I didn’t really believe in all that kind of stuff. It think it is almost innate and is based upon experience. It is common sense, it’s human interaction, you build up confidence by talking to people, by being a decent person, by being truthful.”

Will Goddard opening the event

Mr Goddard continued by presenting the role of the authorities through an example from his father’s experience, a former South African Commander in 1944, who joined up, driven by his desire to save his brother’s life who was missing, captured by the Nazis.

He said: “We have to doff our hats to the previous generation, to what they did and how they created a safer world, a more peaceful world and more balanced world. It’s all about inspiring the next generation and making the world a better place.”

Mr Goddard with his father’s Commander helmet from 1944

Speaking later Mr Goddard expressed his concern about the massive change’ in the relationship between the media and the police.

Mr Goddard said that a good relationship between the press and the police needs to be built from honesty and understanding.

He urged journalism students: “Be yourself, speak to them [the police] and try to understand, because we operate on different levels.

“But ultimately, whatever you do, you’ve got to be honest and true to yourself. If you believe in yourself and you believe in others, you’ll go a long way.”

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