Text 3. Mass Media and PR in Government Institutions
The importance of mass media today is immense. Transparency and accountability are impossible incontemporarydemocracies without media. Media is a vehicle through which government institutions inform, explain and try to win support for their programmes and policies. The relationship between media and government institutions is a complex and increasingly symbiotic process. Thus, if the media portrays something as a crisis, then it is. Moreover, any public servant who openly disagrees with the latest media narrative can be labelled as a rigid bureaucrat who is out of touch with reality. That is why government institutions prefer to stay in strategic partnership with media.
As for PR specialists, they work with media in many ways: prepare press interviews, organise news conferences, conduct media tours and write such materials as fact sheets, press kits, and op-ed articles. Those who work in the sphere of PR establish and maintain friendly relationships with editors, reporters and journalists and provide them with accurate information constantly and consistently. Press reporters are invited to the sessions of local administration to cover such issues as housing problems, care for children and aged people, health care and environment protection.
A typical state PR administration consists of four main departments: press, television and radio, advertising and briefing. Each of these departments has its terms of reference.
Press-department:It is the source of information for national newspapers and magazines, as well as for foreign media. This department organises reporters' visits to the government offices and press-conferences.
TV and radio department: With the growth of TV and radio influence on public opinion, collaboration of PR departments and local TV and radio stations has become really important. Local TV and radio channels usually have some documentary programmes covering and analysing “hot” issues. PR professionals provide the necessary information to these programmes as they form the opinion of people about situations in a region or a country.
The Internet, as relatively new medium of communication, carries an extensive range of information resources and services today. It has enabled entirely new forms of social interaction and activities and achieved new relevance as a political tool, leading us to the Internet censorship. Nowadays many people use the World Wide Web to access news so state bodies and political officials have established official websites to provide information on their activities and policies more quickly and conveniently than via TV or the radio.
Advertising department: Nowadays it is impossible to imagine the activity of government institutions without advertising in media. Advertising departments produce commercials, advertising brochures, posters, flyers, broadsheets and films concerning the activity of the governmental and municipal bodies.
Briefing department: The specialists of this department gather information on the activity of the state bodies and municipal authorities, hand it to the press and advertising departments, and organise briefings for media representatives.
As we can see, the main goal of the PR and advertising professionals is to build effective communication between administration and population via mass media channels fulfilling the following responsibilities:
• Monitoring the media coverage;
• Briefing and advising political officials;
• Managing media relations;
• Informing the public directly;
• Sharing information across the administration;
• Formulating communication strategies and campaigns;
• Researching and assessing public opinion
Answer the questions:
1. What is media in relation to government institutions?
2. How are media and government institutions correlated?
3. Why do government institutions prefer to stay in strategic partnership with media?
4. How do PR specialists coordinate their work with media?
5. What does a typical state PR administration consist of?
6. What are the main responsibilities of the press-department?
7. What is TV and radio department responsible for?
8. What are the duties of the advertising department?
9. How do the specialists of the briefing department work?
10. What is the goal of the PR and advertising professionals?