The new Department of Communications would oversee America's media and communications presence. A secretary of communications would head the department, a cabinet member with commensurate authority and access to the president. The secretary would formulate and execute a coherent communications plan under the president's direction, with input from the president's advisers and fellow cabinet members. The American government's interaction with world media and its own electronic and print media production would be consolidated in the new department.
This management model is found in corporations across the country where a senior executive runs all communications functions and reports directly to the CEO. Company divisions maintain communications staffs that serve the needs of division heads while remaining under the direction and guidance of the chief communications officer. Associations of communication professionals, such as the Public Relations Society of America, routinely advise that an organization's top echelon include a communications executive whose standing is equivalent to other divisional leadership.
To maintain and enhance America's effectiveness in communications and media, a secretary of communications must follow these directives:
- Understand audiences domestic and foreign, interpreting their motivations, cultures and needs.
- Utilize communications channels from grassroots to global, comprehending the effect each has on a target audience.
- Receive input from key audiences since effective organizational communications is always bi-directional.
- Advise the president in a forthright manner, establishing a source of counsel as unvarnished and valuable as a secretary of state reporting on sensitive international negotiations or a secretary of defense assessing troop readiness.
Using this recent experience, he must end our piecemeal approach to communications with a new cabinet department dedicated to the American message.
About the Author:
Jason Karpf is a public relations and marketing professional based in Southern California. He received an Award of Excellence from the Public Relations Society of America's Los Angeles chapter for co-managing media relations for District Attorney Tom Sneddon during the 2004-2005 Michael Jackson criminal trial.