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  1. #1
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    Media Relations Training

    Was wondering how many of you are exposed to media relations training, in both recruit training and opportunities after you are sworn in and on the job.

    Thanks for any and all responses.

  2. #2
    In the Woods

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    No choice here. I'm in the second largest media market in the country and I'm sent to resolve high profile incidents on a fairly regular basis.


    I had to get the training. Now I say the wrong things and look silly far less than I used to.

  3. #3
    Salty Dog

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    Media relations is something for sergeants and above. One more advantage to not promoting.
    Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. - Ronald Reagan

    I don't think It'll happen in the US because we don't trust our government. We are a country of skeptics, raised by skeptics, founded by skeptics. - Amaroq

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    I disagree. Each member of the agency should be able to speak with the press. My old agency had a policy that the Deps could speak, as long as they understood what to say and what not to say. I made some great contacts with the media, which I still use today.

    Never be afraid of speaking to them, if you are and try and hide, they will be on you like blood on a shark. It looks like you are trying to hide something.

  5. #5
    Salty Dog

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    Oh, the policy is still the same, but things are just better when the stripes do the talkin'. I have spoken to the press a few times, but it wasn't at the scene and I was very guarded and precise with what I did tell them.
    Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. - Ronald Reagan

    I don't think It'll happen in the US because we don't trust our government. We are a country of skeptics, raised by skeptics, founded by skeptics. - Amaroq

  6. #6
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    We can speak to the media. Here's what we're trained to say:

    We have no comment at this time, when we do, the Sheriff will make it. Thank you.
    Let your watchword be duty, and know no other talisman of success than labor. Let honor be your guiding star in your dealing with your superiors, with your fellows, with all. Be as true to a trust reposed as the needle to the pole. Stand by the right even to the sacrifice of life itself, and learn that death is preferable to dishonor. ~ Gov. Richard Coke, October 4, 1876

  7. #7
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    Most Departments of any size have a PIO and a media relations policy.

    Centralizing the news releases and having trained personel who are able to develop working relationships with the local news outlets make for fewer "oooops" moments. In today's electronic society, once the words are spoken----they stay around forever and haunt not only the person who spoke them, but the agency.
    "Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon - no matter how good you are, the pigeon will still crap all over the board and strut around like it won anyway."



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    We have a communications dept for the Airport Authority who does all the talking. The Chief may speak on a few occasions, but it's a hassle I don't want to deal with.
    I'm 10-8 like a shark in a sea of crime..

  9. #9
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    As a purely personal follow up, I'd also be interested in knowing about any training or SOPs regarding dealing with photographers at a scene.........

    Again, thanks for taking the time and effort to ponder and respond.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by junpkutz View Post
    As a purely personal follow up, I'd also be interested in knowing about any training or SOPs regarding dealing with photographers at a scene.........

    Again, thanks for taking the time and effort to ponder and respond.
    As long as it's a public place and out of the way of police/fire/EMS, photographers can take pictures/video all day long. This doesn't necessarily need a class to figure out. Crime scenes are obviously off limits as well as the areas deemed hazardous during fire, EMS, or other emergencies. With regards to private property (homes, businesses, etc), that can depend on the property owners as well as the authorities. Normally the media and journalists want to have a good working relationship with the public safety agencies in their area, so it's a good idea to get along.
    I'm 10-8 like a shark in a sea of crime..

  11. #11
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    No comment is a bad phrase. I use: "right now, I don't have the information you're looking for. There will be a press release/conference at..... by......" That appeases the media and lets them know you are not bs'ing them, even though you are.

  12. #12
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    As an aside, we have a quarterly police/emergency services/media meeting here that usually fleshes out any problems or hiccups that arise from time to time. It serves a dual purpose, to keep the lines of communication open and to become familiar faces to each other.

    It's chaired by the local FBI SAC.

    It doesn't always prevent problems, but it goes a long way toward minimizing them. Plus, there's always food.

  13. #13
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    First, If you are a PIO or even a chief of police you must remember that you do not determine what news is. That decision is made by the editor or news director.
    Be forthcoming with info. When the papers call with questions about the simple crash with injuries, give them the basic information. Don't blow them off with I don't have the info or computer is down or officer does not have the report done. Every Dept. has something.
    When you know you will have a press conference, let the media know far in advance, not 30 minutes prior.
    When you do this, that fosters good will. Then, when your dept is looking for positive PR for the santa toy run or charity event , the media will want to come and give you coverage.
    At crime or crash scenes, park the media on the side of the road or in a lot, tell them they can film whatever they want as long as they stay behind the tape.
    No tape avail, set up a demarcation line. (Not past the tree etc) that works great. I find they want a talking head to give them info. "We had a shooting here at 7:30 PM. Joe Citizen was shot 3 times by a handgun. Paul Citizen is the suspect ( or description) etc. The crime scene is large and requires us to close off the area".
    When you start chasing the media or yelling at them, you make the dept. look bad and are put on youtube. Not good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by junpkutz View Post
    As a purely personal follow up, I'd also be interested in knowing about any training or SOPs regarding dealing with photographers at a scene.........

    Again, thanks for taking the time and effort to ponder and respond.
    Only policy I know of that we have is everyone whether they are media or not stays out of the crime scene. If we don't want them shooting photos of something we just spread the tape a little wider. Most of the time reporters don't want to talk to me anyway since I don't have a gold badge I presumably have nothing to offer which is fine with me.

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    I'm no fan of the media. They take unwarranted assumptions, and turn them into foregone conclusions on a daily basis. That said, they are a factor, especially in high profile situations. My agency has Officers detailed to deal specifically with the media,and we have an established written policy regarding media relations.

  16. #16
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    Our rule is don't say anything, refer the media at scene to the highest ranking supervisor you can see and avoid being on camera.

    We have an entire media relations unit that does all the press release stuff, they can have it. The news in LA will twist, turn, ring out, cut and edit anything you say to fit THEIR story and I refuse to get caught up in it.
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    Molon Labe
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtxpro752 View Post
    Our rule is don't say anything, refer the media at scene to the highest ranking supervisor you can see and avoid being on camera.

    We have an entire media relations unit that does all the press release stuff, they can have it. The news in LA will twist, turn, ring out, cut and edit anything you say to fit THEIR story and I refuse to get caught up in it.
    Pretty much the same here.....

    We are prohibited from speaking to the media without express permission.
    The posts on this forum by this poster are of his personal opinion, and his personal opinion alone

    "Politicians are like diapers. They need to be changed often and for the same reason"

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  18. #18
    Salty Dog

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    Quote Originally Posted by District B 13 View Post
    No comment is a bad phrase. I use: "right now, I don't have the information you're looking for. There will be a press release/conference at..... by......" That appeases the media and lets them know you are not bs'ing them, even though you are.
    Nah, just direct them to the command post, especially if there is no CP...just give directions involving at least five miles of unmarked dirt roads.
    Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. - Ronald Reagan

    I don't think It'll happen in the US because we don't trust our government. We are a country of skeptics, raised by skeptics, founded by skeptics. - Amaroq

  19. #19
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    I completely understand and agree with the need to control the flow of information so that it gets out right, but I also believe there needs to be some sort of reasonable flexibility.

    Why wake up a PIO for an overnight fatal traffic accident when most accident investigators/commanders can be trained to speak intelligently on camera about the particulars without violating anyone's rights? (Don't get me started on HIPAA).

    An officer involved shooting is a different matter, but simple stuff ought to be able to be handled by someone who's already awake and on duty.

    Fatal ax investigators here used to be able to talk without jumping through too many hoops a number of years ago. Now we have to wait for a PIO to get up, get dressed, drive to the scene, gather the info and decide what to tell us and what not to. Sometimes, if the incident doesn't meet certain criteria, they don't respond at all, leaving us with little choice but to rely on
    bystander information and inteviews, which is always risky.

    There's a happy medium here somewhere, I'm just not sure where.

  20. #20
    Police Officer
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    Quote Originally Posted by junpkutz View Post
    Was wondering how many of you are exposed to media relations training, in both recruit training and opportunities after you are sworn in and on the job.

    Thanks for any and all responses.
    If being told to go the other way when you see a news camera is training... then, yes I recieved it.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhilipCal View Post
    I'm no fan of the media. They take unwarranted assumptions, and turn them into foregone conclusions on a daily basis. That said, they are a factor, especially in high profile situations. My agency has Officers detailed to deal specifically with the media,and we have an established written policy regarding media relations.
    Coming from a media background and now police, I think we perpetuate the issue with the way we handle the media. I'm not saying its a bad thing and I would rather not talk to the media. But many of the 'assumptions' you speak of come from witnesses and not the police. And most of the times, these witnesses have no clue what they are talking about.

    We once had a police involved shooting in which one officer was shot and BG went down. Within an hour, his family and friends (who were not even there) were in front of the cameras..not just to say how nice of a guy he was..but he didn't own any guns and police just kicked in the door and started shooting for no reason. Some even included how many times BG was shot(inaccurate of course). The media put these folks all over TV and quoted them in the paper. In reality, the BG did have a gun and opened fired on officers as they came in. The media was getting only one side of the story and ran with it..while the department PIO was in front of the cameras but not saying much. I'm not saying this was a bad thing, but is an example of how us not releasing information perpetuates the bad information that gets out.

  22. #22
    Verbal Sniper
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    Quote Originally Posted by District B 13 View Post
    I disagree. Each member of the agency should be able to speak with the press. My old agency had a policy that the Deps could speak, as long as they understood what to say and what not to say. I made some great contacts with the media, which I still use today.

    Never be afraid of speaking to them, if you are and try and hide, they will be on you like blood on a shark. It looks like you are trying to hide something.

    Bad idea to have all Officers/Deputy at an agency free to speak. I would NEVER risk my case or my investigation on a rookie or pizzed off old timer that was too stupid to STFU. If its not your case, you have NO idea what is and isn't important.

    We have a PIO so most don't bother asking because they know we aren't going to say anything.


    I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

  23. #23
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    The thread seems to be running it's course, so I just wanted to thank everyone who participated.
    Be safe, and make sure you go home to your families when your watch is over in '10.

  24. #24
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    I'm a former MRO and my training with my employer was a week long course at about the 16 year mark. I had 22 years in the media before my Police job, so it did not tell me much new about my new position.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dudley DoRight View Post
    I'm a former MRO and my training with my employer was a week long course at about the 16 year mark. I had 22 years in the media before my Police job, so it did not tell me much new about my new position.
    What did you do in your media job? Did you learn anything new of value in your course?

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