Spinning some thoughts on public relations

The County Line

Hamilton County government is getting ready to engage a public relations officer. The idea is to keep the public up to date on the numerous plans and projects the county has in the works. It sounds like a good idea. Most governmental entities the size of our county have some type of PR program.

Both on the drawing board and underway, there are a lot of projects the county has planned to keep up with the public service and facilities needs. There’s the massive upgrading of State Road 37, a new White River bridge, expansion of the Judicial Center, expansion of the jail complex, conversion to solar energy, possibly a parking facility, various park projects, and perhaps a public safety training center.

These are all things that can use some good public relations. But, make no mistake about it, a public relations spokesman, whether in the service of government, private business or a non-profit charity, is hired to put the best face possible on actions of his or her employer. The new county PR person will be hired under contract, not as a regular county employee. The pay and number of hours devoted to the job are yet to be determined.

Public relations can bring varying degrees of success. One of the best PR jobs in government has to go to those building the image of Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett. In private business, nothing can compare with the promotion of the IKEA furniture store. But, some public relations efforts have been known to be less than successful.

So, getting the right person provided with the right assignment is crucial.

In Hamilton County we need a full and factual presentation of any subject, giving the public the bitter and the sweet because, along with the favorable news, there are sometimes events that we deserve to know about that may not be pleasant to reveal.

And, the taxpayers are paying for it all.