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GOVERNMENT RELATIONS. Chapter Thirteen. Government Relations. Each branch of the government utilizes public relations; however; it is often called by other names.

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Chapter Thirteen

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Government Relations

  • Each branch of the government utilizes public relations; however; it is often called by other names.

  • Areas would include communication with regard to political issues, support of political efforts and actions, government agencies, political action committees and coalitions, and lobbying.

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Facts and Figures

  • Huge growth area and is expected to continue growing—job outlook good

  • The government is the largest single employer of public relations professionals

    • Since l970, more than 20 new federal regulatory agencies have emerged

    • Growth in political interest groups

    • Nation’s defense establishment offers 7,000 public relations jobs

    • An estimated 40,000 government communicators in the U.S.

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Roots of Governmental Relations

  • 1913 Gillette Amendment—Appropriated funds may not be used to pay a publicity expert unless specifically appropriated for that purpose.

  • The Gag Law prohibited using any part of an appropriation for services, messages, or publications designed to influence any member of Congress in his attitude toward legislation or appropriations.

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Don’t Say My Name, Say My Name…

  • As a results of those early congressional acts and a president having too much persuasive power, today no government worker may be employed in the practice of public relations.

  • Names such as public affairs officers, information officers, press secretaries, or communications specialists are used.

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Government Hierarchy


Legislative—Representatives and Senators

Executive—President, Staff, Cabinet, Depts., Commissions and Agencies


Legislative—Representatives and Senators

Executive—Governor, Staff, Cabinet, Depts., Commissions and Agencies



County Officials, Commissions and Depts.


Mayor or City Manager

City Council, Officials, Commissions and Depts.

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State Department

United States Information Agency or USIA

Purpose is to support the national interest by conveying an

understanding abroad of what the U.S. stands for and to:

Build the intellectual and institutional foundations of democracy in societies around the globe

Support the war on drugs in producer and consumer countries

Develop worldwide informational programs to address environmental challenges

Bring truth to any society that fails to exercise free and open communication

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The State Dept. is responsible for

  • Press briefings

  • Maintenance of Secretary of State homepage content

  • Operating foreign press centers

  • Managing public diplomacy

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Communication Tools Used:

  • Radio (example, Voice of America)

  • Film and Television

  • Media

  • Publications

  • Exhibitions

  • Libraries and Books

  • Educational programs

  • Electronic information

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The Defense Dept.

  • Department of Defense (DOD) is more active in war time.

  • Public affairs dept. headed by the assistant secretary of defense

  • Network includes communicators in the armed forces, as well as Hqts.

    • Maintains Armed Forces Radio & TV Service and Stars and Stripes newspaper

  • 3 million active duty forces, reserves, and civilian employees

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  • Who is the DOD’s chief communicator?

  • Hint: You’ve seen him on TV in front of the Blue curtains with the flag.

  • Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense

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Government Agencies

Federal departments and regulatory agencies use public relations to provide information, track fraudulent practices, and other related activities.

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The President… newsHe didn’t land that jet on the USS Abraham for nothing.

The presidential press secretary provides the White House press corps (group of national reporters assigned to cover the president) with announcements and daily press briefings.

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Duties of the Press Secretary

  • The presidential press secretary is the chief public relations person for the administration

  • Communicating the policies and practices to the public with increasing responsibilities

  • High public profile

  • Most come from public relations careers, rather than journalism careers

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  • Who was the first female press secretary?

  • Hint: Her first name is a double delight

  • Dee Dee Myers

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Lobbying—to influence legislation

  • Facts & figures

  • 40,000+ registered with the U.S. Senate

  • Roots Lobbying Act of l946 and

    1995 Lobbying Disclosure Act

  • Stereotypes: Influence peddlers to crooks

  • Purpose: to inform, persuade, and contact

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Lobbyist—a day in the life

  • Duties: Inform, persuade, contact, and have the appropriate information available

  • Six Specific Activities are fact-finding, interpretation of government and company actions, advocacy, publicity and support of sales.

  • E-lobbying—web sites, e-mail, along with other technology have become the normalized tools.

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  • Who became the first presidential candidate to announce on the Internet and conduct his campaign largely over the Web?

    Hint: A magazine bears his name

    Answer: Steve Forbes

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Political Action Committees

  • PACs give groups a voice in selecting their representatives.

  • 4,000+ PACs exist

    • The 4 largest are (1) U.S. Realtors $2.5 million (2) Trial Lawyers $2.4m (3) State/County/Municipal Employees $2.4m (4) American Medical Association $2.3m

    • Criticism stems from influence and funding elections $

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State and Local Government

  • Public relations is evident in local, state, and regional government, not only in campaigning, but forums, debates, media interviews, and direct contact are necessary to keep the public informed and communication lines open.

  • Opinion leaders in communities, sectors such as labor unions, teachers, civil service workers all are important to building relationships to influence public policies and assure the quality of life.

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  • Trace a grassroots effort (political or other) in your local area.

  • Did they use political action groups or other coalitions to influence?

  • What tactics did they use?

  • How were they communicated?

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  • Who was labeled the comedic spokesperson for Iraqi forces during the War with Iraq?

  • Hint: He has a couple of handles

  • Answer: Alias Baghdad Bob