Sunday, December 27, 2009

Caveat Lectores on Public Relations, Political Activity and Lobbying

With all the bad things happening in the world of public employment, the level of good will to all did not diminish this holiday season. What I mean by this is that firefighters, cops other public employees have not lost their desire to help those who really need help. The daily barrage of news we receive was filled as usual with stories of charitable giving of time and resources to the needy and unfortunate by firefighters and other public employees.

Firefighters do a better job of getting involved, but they are not alone. They do, however, do a much better job of making sure the public knows what they do. It is called effective public relations. PR is the foundation cornerstone of public employment success. Without effective PR and making sure the public knows how valuable any segment of public employment is to the community, there is an assurance that the public will take the employees for granted. If all a public employee group does is come to work and do a good job, they become invisible. Invisibility means failure to attain success.

Firefighters, both professional and volunteer, are a model for PR success that other groups should study and emulate. PR keeps the fire/rescue service in the public’s consciousness. Good feelings about firefighters make it easier to support their causes which include, among other things, their own wages and benefits.

Effective public relations create credibility with the public. Credibility with the public makes a group attractive to politicians. It takes more than just money for public employees to become credible. Political activism comes as the extension of the successful PR program.

”Effective political activism leads to relationships with legislators that give you access to put forth your point of view. Friendly politicians will listen to you. They may not always agree with you, but they will listen. Develop relationships with as many legislators as possible so you will have that access. This is not rocket science. … Remember, you and your Local are trying to persuade … people from varying backgrounds with varying goals and objectives to narrow their focus to agree to help you and your members achieve your frequently very different goals and objectives. You must find common ground.” *

Working with politicians is called lobbying. You cannot succeed without a successful lobbying effort. You can live in denial and fail or get your head out of the clouds or your ass and do what it takes to succeed. My best professional advice is to get more involved with PR, political activity and lobbying.

And… Oh yes, have a nice day?


Excerpt from the most important resource available to fire union leadership: The Survivor’s Guide to a Successful Public Sector Union

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