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Communicating with the Public

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If your section or committee is conducting an event such as a forum featuring a prominent speaker, or is working on a newsworthy initiative, the Association's Communications staff can prepare news releases and notify reporters. To obtain this assistance, contact:

Mark Tarasiewicz
Associate Executive Director
Phone: (215) 238-6346
Email: mtarasiewicz@philabar.org

The Association encourages reporters to call Bar Headquarters to verify facts, receive background information, gain assistance in developing stories and sources, etc. On occasion, the staff may refer a reporter to you for information about some specific aspect of law. You can assist the reporter by providing factual information and answering questions, because this is a valuable part of our effort to educate the public. Be careful to avoid any personal observations. If you make your own views known, be certain that the reporter understands that you are not representing the Bar Association.

If your committee or section believes that some special effort is needed to inform the public about some particular aspect of law, contact the Associate Executive Director.

General Communications Procedures

The Chancellor is the official spokesperson for public comments on Association policies and positions. As a practical matter, a number of other individuals may be designated to provide factual information on behalf of the Association, as required by demands of timeliness or expertise. These individuals may include other officers; section, committee and division chairs; or executive staff. Whenever possible, and to the extent determined by the personal preferences of each Chancellor, the Chancellor should be featured as the Association's official representative in public media. Specific guidelines limiting statements by leaders of sections and committees are established in Article X, §1002 of the Association's Bylaws.

All communications with reporters, except communications conducted directly by the Chancellor, are processed through the professional public relations staff in the Association's Communications Department. All written statements distributed to reporters are specifically reviewed and approved by the Executive Director and/or Associate Executive Director.

To keep the Association informed on public attitudes and opinions, the Communications Department staff monitors clips from Philadelphia daily newspapers and the Internet, and reviews broadcast news and public affairs programming. The Communications Department brings news articles, editorials and letters to the editor of interest to the Association to the attention of the appropriate officers, Board members, section and committee chairs, and staff of the Association with recommendations for appropriate action. If errors in reporting are found, the Associate Executive Director prepares letters to the editor that may ultimately be sent by the Chancellor or Executive Director. All clips and related matters are reviewed, and reporters may be contacted with comments. The review of media also provides new names for our media contact list.

Media Information Service

The Communications Department staff conducts a free service for all working reporters, through which prompt and accurate answers to law-related questions are provided. Daily and weekly newspapers and radio and television broadcasters are reminded of this service.

Reporters can call the Philadelphia Bar Association with any law-related question, and staff will locate an attorney with experience in that subject who will provide background explanations. Assistance does not include legal advice, but lawyers do explain law and procedures so that reporters can prepare accurate articles for the public. The service builds rapport with the working press and impresses upon reporters that the Philadelphia Bar Association is a good source for accurate and helpful information. The service has encouraged reporters to call the Bar Association for position statements and/or explanations of Association action. When requests for information concern an Association position, callers may be referred to the Chancellor, Executive Director, or other appropriate spokesperson.

Broadcast Appearances

In appropriate circumstances, the Communications Department staff encourages radio and television broadcasters to interview the Chancellor, or other representative, to present Philadelphia Bar Association views on major issues.

The Communications Department staff will arrange for Bar officers and representatives to appear on broadcast public affairs programs whenever topics arise that will lead to public education and understanding of important issues. If the subject being covered is one on which the Association has not taken an official position, participants must be identified as representing their own individual views rather than as representatives of the Philadelphia Bar Association.

Media Coverage of Meetings

The Communications Department can invite a reporter to attend your meeting if deemed appropriate. Please advise the Associate Executive Director in advance if you feel your meeting is of interest to the media. These arrangements must be channeled through the Communications Department. If you have any questions regarding the Association's internal or external communications, feel free to contact:

Mark Tarasiewicz
Associate Executive Director
Phone: (215) 238-6346
Email: mtarasiewicz@philabar.org

© 2012 Philadelphia Bar Association