Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Seminar Explores Local Officials' Relationship with the Media

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Seminar Explores Local Officials' Relationship with the Media

Article excerpt

The following is a preview of one of the topics to be covered during Leadership Training Institute Seminars at the Congress of Cities in Charlotte, N.C. "Is That on the Record? Learn to Say 'Yes' With Confidence" will be held on Wednesday, December 7.

It is five o'clock on a Monday afternoon when you receive a call from the government beat reporter at the local newspaper.

"Hey," he begins in a negative tone, "I need you to tell me what happened in that meeting you guys had on Friday. I have some sources that say you're about to let the county's tax assessor go and I'm breaking this story tomorrow."

The sweat is forming on your brow as you look at your watch and consider the planning meeting that starts in a few minutes. No one was supposed to know about that closed door meeting except for those that were there. Who leaked the information to the reporter?

With precious seconds ticking away, you blurt out, "I'm sorry, but I don't have time to talk right now. Besides, you know we are not supposed to talk about employee issues. I'll call you later. Goodbye."

Two meetings and three hours later, when you remember the conversation, your heart skips a beat. You frantically pick up a cell phone and try to reach the reporter. After several failed attempts, you give up and ask yourself, "Why didn't I handle that better? I'll pay a heavy price for that one in the paper tomorrow."

Daily, public officials and employees in all municipal departments are faced with the fact that a reporter could call at any time.

It is imperative that elected officials and municipal staff know how to communicate effectively in a wide range of media relations scenarios, from general interviews to crisis situations. …

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