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Control the news to the best of your ability

Looking at some of the news today makes me wonder how we, in the world of libraries, are dealing with difficult and controversial decisions, especially when it comes to public relations.  Any organization that seeks to change as often and as we do needs to craft its public persona in a manner that is easily understood and earns the respect (and sometimes the sympathy) of its public.  Our mission needs to be clear, even if our services change and morph to meet demands.  So I have one small bit of advice:

Control the news to the best of your ability – Issue early press releases that discuss your problem and your thought process.  Involve community groups in issues that could become especially tricky.  Do not seek to hide or cloud your reasoning – the public will see this.  Keep your back-room dealings private, and make sure your numbers are honest – your staff may buy into exaggerated numbers, but the public and press will make you pay.

The sorry fact is, you’ll always have public relations issues when it comes to controversial and difficult decisions, but taking a proactive approach to media control will always pay big dividends in the end.