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February 14, 2012
Getting It Wrong In Wausau
 
We don't know what the other priorities are in Wausau, Wisconsin, but for the city council to nix hiring a public relations person seems like a bad idea, especially because of the reason given by one member. Elected officials shouldn't "hide behind a hired person," she said.

Of course not. But the comment reflects a jaundiced, mistaken view of the role of public relations in municipal government or anywhere else. A good PR person wouldn't shield Wausau officials but help them relate better to the community they serve. Good PR skills don't come naturally to many people, as the lady member's comment indicates. 

Good PR is a strategic communication process, and how many people have natural skills, or have acquired training, in that? Not enough, in Wisconsin or anywhere else. The $40,000 to $55,000 the city was thinking of spending on a PR position is not an insignificant amount, and much would depend on the person chosen. But to nix the position on the grounds that it's something "we all can do" is badly mistaken. If PR is going so well in Wausau, why has the subject even come up?

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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