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From the Author...
What a Press Office Does
The Job of the Press Officer
The Press Office at Work
The Communications Plan
Message Development
Tools of the Press Office
Press Releases, Media Advisories, and Fact Sheets: A Closer Look
Interviews: A Closer Look
Press Conferences
Crisis Communications
Event Planning
Ethics: Codes of Conduct
In Brief...
Executive Editor:
  George Clack
  Marguerite H. Sullivan
  Kathleen E. Hug
  Diane K. Woolverton
Contributing Editor:
  Ellen F. Toomey
Español (HTML) (PDF)  | Français | Arabic         (Posted September 13, 2001)
book cover

From the author...

Over the past several years, I've had the pleasure of traveling to various Central European and Eurasian countries as a participant in the U.S. State Department's Speakers Program. On these trips, I've met with many government officials and, based on my experience both as a reporter and as a spokesperson for several U.S. government organizations, have advised them on how to run an effective public affairs operation.

This book is a direct response to the many questions I've been asked while on these trips. It has been written as a sort of pocket guide for government leaders and public information officials who want to create an effective mechanism of communication between the press and the government. The choice of material reflects issues raised by these spokespersons, both in terms of the specific topics addressed and the level of detail provided.

The questions discussed here are certainly not unique to any one part of the world; most are the same as or similar to questions I've been asked in the United States and other countries. How do I deal with the press during a crisis situation? How do I develop the message that the government official for whom I work wants people to understand and accept? How do I assess an interview request? How do I set up a press conference? How do I combine a press office's need for a long-term communications strategy with its responsibility for working with the press on a daily basis? How friendly can and should government spokespersons and journalists be?

One topic that this book does not include but about which I've fielded many questions is "sunshine laws" — or the Freedom of Information Act and open meeting requirements — in the United States. For information on this subject, I would refer the reader to the booklet "Transparency in Government," prepared by the U.S. Department of State, Office of International Information Programs. That office is also currently working on another short publication titled "Democracy Paper #10: The Public's Right to Know," which should be available before the end of 2001.

The material in this "insider's guide" also reflects my own working experiences in the United States. I have observed how a government communicates from the outside, as a reporter and columnist covering government, and from the inside, as a government spokesperson working with journalists. As a journalist, I reported on government at all levels — from the local to the national. As a government spokesperson, I responded to and worked with members of the regional, national, and international press. And as president of the Washington Press Club and an official in several government executive groups, I learned firsthand the importance of professional organizations through which you can share experiences, problems, and successes with your peers.

Finally, both inside and outside the United States, I have observed how important the roles of government spokespersons and journalists are in a democratic society — and how they can work together to communicate information about government to the citizenry and respond to their concerns.

The author, Marguerite H. Sullivan, is a public affairs and communications specialist. She has worked in the political arena since 1986, and, in 1991, she became assistant to then Vice President Dan Quayle in the administration of President George Bush (1989-1993). She is currently director of the Center on International Media Assistance at the National Endowment for Democracy, after leaving her post in 2006 as executive director of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO.

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