|Letter to the City of LA in Support of LAWA|
January 26, 2013
Councilmember Tom LaBonge, Chair
RE: LAX Modernization Program, Public Outreach and Education Contract
Dear Chairman LaBonge and Committee Members:
The Public Relations Society of America is an international organization of more than 20,000 public relations and communications professionals from around the world. PRSA is the largest and foremost organization of public relations professionals. PRSA provides professional development, sets standards of excellence and upholds principles of ethics for its members and, more broadly, the multi-billion dollar global public relations profession. PRSA has worked directly with local and state governments and various branches of the federal government to increase understanding of the importance of strategic communications for public agencies and to help establish such things as professional codes of conduct, contract compliance and measurement standards.
For decades – and in particular for the past eight years, the Los Angeles chapter of PRSA has been working hard to correct misunderstandings and misconceptions about the proper and important role of the public relations profession with public agencies, why it’s necessary to issue city contracts for public relations services, and to demonstrate the significant positive impact that the public relations profession has on the local economy.
Many local government employees in Southern California are members of PRSA so they can reap the rewards of professional development programs for the benefit of their employer, improve their leadership and management skills, stay current with the daily challenges and situations facing professional communicators as well as learn the latest tools required to offer their best services on behalf of their employer. Public relations contributes nearly half a billion dollars annually to the local economy, according to a 2010 study by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.
Today, we are encouraging your committee and the rest of the Los Angeles City Council to review the Board of Airport Commissioners actions regarding contracts for public education communications services at LAX as you would any other contract – on its merits.
We implore you to fully recognize the need for highly skilled, experienced, highly professional and very ethical public relations services for the benefit of the city, Los Angeles World Airports, and its constituents.
Public communications plays a vital a role in the day-to-day operations of local government and public agencies – just as much as engineering, construction services, legal, finance and similar professional services. The letters “PR” should not be spoken with trepidation by elected officials, because public officials rely on strategic public relations on a daily basis and especially since the need for strategic public relations is growing, not shrinking, in today’s information-rich world.
Hopefully, by now, you have received information that tells you a couple of things about the current contract with LAX:
We understand questions may be raised about the necessity of “PR” for government work. We are here to answer some of those questions and, hopefully, provide you with some economic reasons and, perhaps, even your own talking points for using professional public relations services. For instance:
Public relations is much more than writing press releases, crafting key messages and mailing newsletters. What is public relations?
PRSA-LA strongly advocates on behalf of the professional public relations communicators who are ready, willing and able to serve the City of Los Angeles, LAWA and other public entities. The benefits of engaging PR firms far outweigh the investment. Ultimately, public relations is about building relationships between organizations and the public. And none of the benefits can happen without open, honest and continuous communications. It has been proven over and over that the lack of transparent communications results in misinformation, while further eroding public trust. All too often the public makes up its own story when organizations fail to effectively and proactively communicate. For those reasons, we urge you to support the continued use of public education communications services and that those service contracts be reviewed and evaluated based on merit.
Councilmember Bill Rosendahl