By James E. Lukaszewski, ABC, Fellow IABC; APR, Fellow PRSA; PRSA BEPS Emeritus
The weight of public communication on public officials is enormous compared to the communication requirements in private industry, even in the non-profit sector. It would appear America is entering an era of extraordinary change in the relationship of government to people. Changes and eliminations in programs and services, the handling of public crises in general, are gaining more scrutiny from more opinionated sources.
On June 15th, I’ll be at the League of Minnesota Cities 2017 Annual Conference talking about crisis response and media relations during crises situations in the public sector. Having served in Minnesota state government in communications in the governor’s office and in the Minnesota State Department of Economic Development, including being a deputy commissioner, I know a lot about what goes on when the media probes, investigates and attacks the public sector.
Why is public communication harder? Because the media knows a lot more about government than it does about anything else. In our culture, government has an obligation to be open and honest with the media as well as the public about what it’s doing and why it’s doing it. Adverse circumstances become actual crises much more rapidly in government with far more people watching, waiting with public contentious judging.
“Media Relations During a Crisis” is the essence of a two-hour tutorial for public officials in or about to be in the spotlight, the limelight, in the middle and often the target of direct public commentary, criticism and anger, followed by conflict, confusion, consternation and often confrontation, all caused by outside parties and their strong individual points of view.
Read the full article featured in the Minnesota Cities May-Jun 2017 issue. It’s an interesting read. I recommend it highly.
The opposite of contention is agreement. When agreement is neither present nor possible the result is continuous contention, which pretty accurately describes life in the public sector from time to time.