The main function of the Press Section is to earn public understanding and acceptance of the policies and programmes of the government of the day, and spread the message that it is working for the welfare of the people, and for all-round development of the state. This objective is sought to be achieved by feeding the media with extensive information on a day-to-day basis. The responsibility for carrying out this important and multifarious task rests with the Press Section which disseminates information about government’s plans and initiatives through print and electronic media on a daily basis. Though the emphasis at present is more on the print media, electronic media too has come to command attention and importance. The Press Section is gearing up to utilize the electronic media, both local and national channels. The Web Studio built at the Media Centre for the recording of statements of dignitaries, announcing important decisions of the state government are released to the electronic media.
Press Section performs the following functions:-
Coverage of Hon’ble Chief Minister, Ministers, Chief Parliamentary Secretaries and the Chief Secretary
- Issuing press notes
- Drafting speeches and messages
- Arranging press conferences
- Conducting press parties to project sites and other important functions of VIPs and VVIPs
- Providing Press facilities
- Arranging interviews, talks and features with electronic media
- Maintaining liaison with accredited media persons, news editors, chief sub-editors and sub-editors
- Obtaining information from various departments and disseminating it to the media after modifying and rewriting the contents to suit their needs.
The Press Section is also engaged in some other duties which include:
- Forming accreditation rules and media policy
- Providing accreditation to media persons
- Supplying background material and photographs
- Conducting attitude surveys and opinion polls, research on government plans and their implementation, to get feedback
- Conducting training programmes for those working in the Press Section.
Both print and electronic media serve as a link between the government and the people by disseminating information about the various initiatives taken by the government for their welfare. The Press Section also provides feedback to the government on the impact of its policies, programmes and initiatives.
While media provides support system to the government for creating awareness among the people about its policies and programmes, the government, in reciprocation, honours media persons for their exceptional work and ensures their welfare. The measures taken in this connection include:
a) Media persons are honoured with awards every year for outstanding performance in their respective fields.
b) The Haryana Media Personnel Welfare Fund Administration Scheme has been implemented to provide timely and adequate financial assistance to deserving members of the media working in various capacities all over the state, or covering Haryana. Financial help is also extended to their dependents or legal heirs in case of dire need on account of illness, demise, accident or any other exigency.
C) Implementation of "The Haryana Media-Awards Rules" and “Haryana Media Personnel Welfare Fund Administration Scheme” is now the responsibility of the Press Section.
Coverage of Hon’ble Chief Minister, Ministers, Chief Parliamentary Secretary and Chief Secretary
IPROs and AIPROs serving in the Press Section, are attached with the Hon’ble Chief Minister, Ministers, Chief Parliamentary Secretaries and the Chief Secretary. Departments under concerned ministers are also distributed among the IPROs and AIPROs. They attend meetings and functions of ministers and also draft speeches and messages for them by obtaining information from the departments. They also provide daily media feedback to the ministers they are attached with. Guidelines for Information and Public Relations Officers and Assistant Public Relations Officers to be successful
- Any PR executive attached with minister should not only be familiar with the plans, programmes and policies of the department but also with various stages of their implementation. This would help them a lot in preparing press releases and drafting speeches and messages.
- PR executive should be in regular touch with administrative secretaries and heads of department. He must attend meetings of the department covered by him.
- Background notes on various projects should be kept ready and updated for release on demand.
- Any information requested by media persons should be supplied at the earliest.
- IPROs and AIPROs should have sustained liaison with government departments and all other agencies, including public sector undertakings, to collect information and prepare Press Releases. IPROs and AIPROs should attend important meetings convened by administrative secretaries, heads of department and chairmen or managing directors of public sector undertakings. It will not only enable them to keep themselves abreast with the latest information but also bring them face to face with those who matter in running the organization.
- PR personnel should always make themselves available to media persons as they serve as a link between the government and the media. In case he is unable to attend to media persons for being busy in some urgent work, he should call back and attend to their needs.
- With a view to having better coordination and liaison with media persons, PR person should become part of their formal and informal gatherings by taking membership of the Press Club and other such organizations they are attached with.
Press release is one of the most reliable tools extensively used by the Press Section to disseminate information to the print media. The ultimate objective of issuing a press note is to get it published in newspapers at proper time and in a proper manner. Drafting a press note is the most creative job a PR man does. Important information is culled out from a pile of matter, and given the shape of a press release. Generally, most of the press releases issued to the media get published. Systematic procedure is followed for the release of press notes to remove any ambiguity. Press Releases, prepared by AIPROs and IPROs, are edited or rewritten by the Deputy Director and released after due approval of the Additional Director.
Form and content of press note
Content, form and presentation constitute the most important features of a press note. A neatly drafted press note, couched in the language media- persons use, instantly attracts the attention of the reporter and the desk. The basic structure of a press note comprises the headline, intro and the news content.
In a newspaper office, a sub-editor has to give and adjust a headline to a pre-determined typographical font and style, and he rarely uses the headline supplied by the Press Section. However, a proper and to-the-point headline, summing up the essence of the report, can click with the sub-editor and he may feel inclined to use it. Headline writing is the most creative job, and writing a good headline requires skill and command over language. The art of writing a good headline cannot be taught. It has to be developed and perfected through sheer diligence and long practice.
Guidelines for writing a good headline
- Since intro sums up the talking point of the report, the headline should be drawn largely from the opening paragraph.
- It should be written in minimum possible words to draw the attention of the reader, and make him go through the report.
- The headline should be in the present tense and do without unnecessary frills and encumbrances.
The gist of the report being conveyed through the headline and intro, information like details of any policy or programme, benefits of the scheme and the likely impact of government’s decisions etc, should be supplied in the stomach of the report.
Guidelines for writing main story
Hon’ble ministers and other dignitaries attend functions and programmes. The AIPROs and IPROs attached with them have to supply draft speeches or background material to them.
Guidelines for writing speeches
Dignitaries are often requested by media organisations for messages to be published in their special editions or supplements. Sometimes, the messages are to be published in souvenirs. Draft messages are supplied by the Information Officers attached with them
Guidelines for writing messages
a) The pattern of drafting messages has remained the same over a period of time b) The messages should be short and business-like c) Irrelevant messages should be avoided d) Messages should be relevant only to the topic
A feature is a creative, sometimes subjective article, designed to entertain and inform the readers about an event, situation or aspect of life. A feature has a longer shelf life as compared to a press note.
Guidelines for writing a good feature
Arranging and covering press conferences are very important functions of a PR executive. It is his exclusive duty to ensure their success.
Guidelines for making press conference a success
At the outset, we must identify the objectives of a press conference. These should be clearly spelled out before hand. It should be decided if any policy or performance of the government is to be explained in general, or in the context of a particular situation.
- Intro/ lead is the most important part of any story, feature or article.
- Guidelines for writing a good intro/ lead
- The intro/ lead should comprise the talking point of the report and sum up its essence in a few words.
- It should normally tell one-fourth of the story.
- The conventional inverted pyramid style—as you go down the report you go down in importance--should be followed.
- The details should follow in the subsequent paragraphs according to their relative importance.
- It is for the IPRO or AIPRO to decide what important information he wants to highlight in the intro of the press note. But discretion must be tempered by news sense and sagacity.
- Avoid abstract or high-sounding words as far as possible, and make sure that your language is simple, familiar and easy to understand.
- Substitute difficult words with simple ones. In case of sentences, care should be taken that they are short, simple and not compounded.
- Break all long sentences.
- Don't pack more than one idea in one sentence.
- Don't use an important word more than once in the same sentence.
- Don't begin a sentence the same way as you started the previous one.
- Avoid repetition of phrases.
- Avoid beginning a sentence with time factor.
- Similarly, a sentence should not start with a digit but, if necessary, it must be given in words.
- Avoid starting a sentence with an adverb.
- Avoid common or hackneyed phrases or figures of speech. For instance, nip the evil in the bun, as busy as bee, lady luck etc. should be avoided.
- Writing should be concise and tight. This can be achieved by avoiding superfluous words, phrases and clauses. Don't mix tenses.
- Avoid negative statements.
- Pay special attention to spellings.
- Wrong spellings and grammatical mistakes create a bad impression in the Press.
- Simplicity, dignity and clarity should be the hallmark of a press note.
- Language is a vital tool of communication in Public Relations. Words used in a PR campaign wield great influence on the audience.
- It is unethical to use such words as are morally or otherwise objectionable to the society as a whole.
- The ability to write quickly and coherently distinguishes a PR professional from others in an organization.
- Draft speech should be relevant to the topic of the programme or function.
- The department concerned should be asked to send the latest report on its activities and achievements.
- A reference to the prevailing scenario on the subject should be made right in the introduction. For example, if the function is related to female foeticide, attention should be drawn to the happenings in the society on this issue, and its ill effects.
- Information on government schemes and programmes should be mentioned.
- The speech should not be too lengthy as undue length robs any speech of its punch or impact.
- A brief summary on the organizers should be included in the draft speech.
- Use of simple, familiar and easy-to-pronounce words should be preferred to connect with the audience.
- Use small sentences
- Avoid negative statements
- Never use such words as are morally or otherwise objectionable to the people
- Avoid statements which hurt the sentiments of people
- Avoid provocative statements
- Phrases and quotes of important personalities should be incorporated in the speech to inspire the audience.
- The length of the speech should neither be too long nor too short. It should be so worded as to hold the audience, and should not be repetitive and boring.
- Religious overtones or connotations should be strictly avoided.
- Biased or prejudiced statements should also be kept out.
- There is lot of difference between a news story and a feature. While a news story presents bare facts, a feature should dramatize and supplement them, giving detailed information, including background, that should be of interest to the readers.
- Feature can be attempted on any subject. But one should confine oneself to doing development-oriented features, throwing in lot of human interest element, and quotes from people.
- Illustrations and visuals should be used to enhance the impact of the feature.
- While using graphics and illustrations, care must be taken to ensure that these are relevant to the theme of the feature and are properly captioned.
- Feature should be so drafted as to sustain the interest of the reader right up to the end. It should be neither too long, nor too short. The moment it begins to get monotonous and boring, it should be slashed.
- The content of feature should include basic facts. Even such small but interesting details as are not necessary in a press note, can be included.
- Besides good treatment of the subject, flow of writing is no less important.
- Sentences and paragraphs should merge into each other, and the text should offer no jerks to the reader.
- Feature must not be written in inverted pyramid style. Intro should be very special and unconventional. However, one can take liberty with the language.
- Comparisons and contrasts make a feature interesting.
- Feature must revolve around a central theme and avoid any slant or bias.
Conducting a Press Party
The purpose of taking press parties to field units is to familiarize reporters and correspondents with developmental projects. Another objective of taking correspondents to field visits is to enable them to study the situation on the spot, and gain knowledge about how a particular situation is handled by the government. Press tours are also arranged to cover important public functions of national leaders or foreign dignitaries.
Guidelines for organizing a successful press party
Members of the Press are provided the facilities of accreditation, transport, hospitality, boarding and lodging, and background material.
Accreditation confers such benefits as entitlement to government accommodation, bus passes and the facility of stay in government rest houses and hotels at subsidized rates.
Guidelines for facilitation of media persons
- Then, we must decide the date, time and venue. The venue selected should be comfortable, have enough seating capacity for correspondents, and must have facilities for hospitality.
- The press conference should be preferably held in the forenoon for achieving the objective of getting maximum coverage.
- It should be ensured that no other press briefing is scheduled at the same time, at same venue, and on the same date. If there is one, we should try and change the date. For, two press conferences same day would mean less coverage.
- Briefing is very important. The IPRO and APRO must get proper brief from the VIP addressing the press conference, and, in turn, should also brief the VIP regarding the type of questions likely to be asked.
- A decision has to be taken if the questions to be asked by correspondents will be pre-decided or extempore. In the former case, questions must be obtained from the correspondents and communicated to the minister or VIP addressing the conference.
- A list of invitees should be prepared well in advance. Generally, accredited correspondents should be invited to the press conference.
- Invitation should be sent to them well in advance, preferably a day earlier, indicating the date, time and place as decided by the person addressing the press conference.
- Invitation should also be communicated over the telephone, or by SMS, which would facilitate confirmation from correspondents.
- Exclusive press briefings should be avoided because these undermine the impartiality and credibility of the department. Moreover, the danger of being misquoted is greater in an exclusive briefing rather than at a general press conference where other media persons are also present.
- Snacks should not be served during the press conference. Tis should be done either before or after the press conference. IPRO and AIPRO should not hesitate to advise the person addressing the press conference on what kind of remarks should be treated as off the record by the Press. In fact, the VIP has to act as a director of a film. He should not only answer the questions but also direct the press conference. An equitable procedure should be followed in making correspondents ask the questions to ensure equal opportunity to all.
- Before a press party is organized, briefing from the concerned department, government agency or govern¬ment undertaking is necessary on what is intended to be shown to the Press.
- Actual date of visit should be fixed in consultation with members of the Press community.
- It is better to call all intending members of a press party for a brief meeting where all arrangements should be made clear to them in order to avoid any subsequent misunderstanding. This meeting should make clear such things as the date of press party, time of assembly of journalists, place of assembly, transport, meals and hospitality en route, boarding and lodging arrangements at the site, and any other point which requires clarification. Background material and photographs should also be made available at the meeting to update and mentally prepare medipersons for the tour.
- A responsible officer should be sent ahead of the arrival of the press party to contact officers of the department/agency/ undertaking at the site, and reconfirm all arrangements made for the visiting press party, in consultation with officers.
- A minute-to-minute programme should be drawn and circulated to the press party on arrival. It should provide a reasonable amount of time for transit from one place to another, rest and recreation.
- It must be ensured that, as far as possible, each member of the press party has a room to himself. In case sharing of rooms becomes inevitable, it must be ensured that only compatible people are lodged together.
- Neatness, hygiene and cleanliness of the place of stay are of paramount importance. Even though this task is delegated to someone else, the final check must be made by PR officer, since, in Public Relations, you can’t undo the damage once done.
- As regards food, accurate information about vegetarian and non-vegetarian members of the Press party, and their specific likes and dislikes, should be obtained.
- Hospitality need not necessarily be very lavish but it should be adequate and timely.
- If more than one officer is accompanying the press party, or even if one officer alone is accompanying the party, he must share a room with members of the Press party in case sharing of rooms is inevitable.
- He must also share meals with the Press fraternity, not with senior officers of the project. In fact, it must be ensured that the senior- most officers at the project site are available to members of the Press party for interaction during the visit.
- A common date of coverage of the event in the Press should be settled with all members of the Press party. For, the impact of the report on the event is less if news appears in different sections of the media on different dates.
- A note of thanks should be sent to all media persons who made up the Press party, especially those who have given a good coverage to the event. This can be done through SMS or paying a personal visit.
- There should be no rigid or strict rule-bound stand on entertaining such requests. For instance, if a newspaper editor has written a letter introducing a correspondent freshly appointed to cover Haryana, and there are minor anomalies in the request like lack of signature on the application form for accreditation, he should be granted temporary accreditation and the drawbacks can be got removed later.
- Media persons often require transportation facility for certain field assignments. The vehicles should be so deployed as to ensure that one vehicle is always kept ready and available for such purposes. Often, editors of correspondents located in Haryana and their senior colleagues from outside, visit the state on special assignments. They should be provided transportation facility.
- All assistance must be extended by way of board and lodging, transport and liaison with the persons they may wish to contact.
- Besides the accredited media persons, regular rapport should also be maintained by AIPROs, IPROs, deputy directors, joint directors, additional directors, and even the DGIPR, with the desk which comprises news editor, deputy news editor, chief sub-editor and sub-editors. Desk hands should be given equal importance as it is at the desk that the quality of press notes issued by the PR Department is put to test. It is the desk that decides how and where a particular press note is to be used in the newspaper.
- The PR Department should be familiar with names of the desk staff and maintain regular liaison with them through the instrument of the Press Club and hospitality allowance.
- All members of the desk should be treated equally and a regular flow of information should be maintained by supplying them with government material like pamphlets, books, publications, calendars, diaries and greeting cards.
- It would be a good idea for the head of the department to meet the desk staff exclusively from time to time.
- With a view to maintaining personal rapport with accredited media persons, DO letters should be routinely sent to them on important occasions like birthdays or anniversaries along with with a bouquet.
- Tapping the Electronic Media
Radio, the most important tool of mass communication, is very popular among the masses. All India Radio being a government-controlled media, there is a tendency to take it for granted. This is an unhealthy trend and we must check it and ensure that equal importance is given to radio. Since some FM channels have gained immense popularity, these should be utilized for achieving the objective of ensuring maximum coverage and publicity.
Guidelines for better relations with media persons associated with radio
- Radio correspondents, members of the desk, producers of feature programmes and station directors should be treated like other members of the Press, and accorded due recognition.
- Since it is essentially an audio media, the emphasis is on the spoken word which remains the most natural method of communication. The spoken word clicks with the masses if conveyed in a very simple language.
- Radio can be utilized for projecting development stories. Instead of the traditional method of supplying script for reading, it would be better to arrange interview-based programmes, highlighting various aspects of development.
- It would be better for PR professionals to arrange a panel discussion which should have at least one dissenting member to lend credibility to the programme.
- In order to make use of radio as a tool of publicity, we should arrange spot visits by radio team for recording features.
- The language in all matter supplied to radio should be simple and in personalized conversational mode.
- Similarly, in supplying news items exclusively for use by the radio, matter should not be cluttered up with statistical data. Statistics should be used only if these are dramatic, and point to a definite trend.
Being an audio-visual media, television provides for instantaneous communication system. Since it is live, has music and combines voice with visuals, it is one of the most effective and powerful media. Scientific research has proved that because of its audio-visual characteristics, TV has maximum credibility, and its permanency is assured. The recall rate of items appearing on TV is extremely high. Since "seeing is believing", better think of doing it on TV. Apart from abstract ideas and policies, there is hardly any item or activity which cannot be projected visually.
Guidelines for maximum coverage on channels
Accreditation means recognition to news media or press representatives by the government for the purpose of having access to sources of information of public interest in the government, and also to news material, written or pictorial, released by the DGIPR or other agencies of the Haryana Government.
'Media Awards' or `Patrakar Puruskars' are given to uphold the dignity of media persons, to inspire budding media persons to excel in the field of journalism, and to provide encouragement to veteran media persons by according recognition to their services. The awards include the 'Life Time Achievement Award', State Level Awards, including commemorative awards, District Level Awards and other awards instituted by the government.
Presentation of awards
The awards are presented at a special ceremony every year, preferably on 'Press Day', either at the state headquarters or any other place in the state. The awardees are invited to receive the awards in person, except in cases where the award is being given posthumously. All the participants are given some recognition for their valid entries.
- Avail yourself of every opportunity to supply news clips, features, slides, charts and even telling still photographs, for use by television channels.
- Short stories on the developmental works in the state should be prepared for the electronic media
- Interviews and Talk Shows involving dignitaries should be prepared for release to the electronic media.
- Statements regarding major announcements made by the government should also be released to local and national channels
- Major decisions, including those taken by the Cabinet, should be released to the electronic media through SMS so that these can be run as news strips.