5 things legislative communicators want you to know.

Author:Andrade, Jane Carroll

They write, crafting news releases and speeches. They talk, serving as spokespeople for legislators and the institution. They record, capturing photos, videos and audio of legislative proceedings. And increasingly, they post--using Twitter, Instagram , Facebook and more. They are the information officers, press secretaries, communications directors, audio and video producers, photographers, and civic educators who serve as the liaisons between the nation 's state legislatures, their constituents and the media. Here's what they want you to know.


You are the star of the show. We are your crew.

While most of us are perfectly comfortable speaking publicly (we're communicators, after all), we generally shine behind the scenes. Our job is to showcase the great work of legislators and the legi slative institution, not ourselves. We are the directors, producers, screenwriters and art directors. "We are the eyes and ears of your audience," says Dennis Yoder, communications technician for the Texas Senate and immediate past chair of the Legislative Information and Communications Staff Section. "Our job is to help you look and sound your best. When you look good, we look good."



There is no escaping the cameras and microphones.

Whether they're pointed at you by the media or your own staff, get comfortable in front of cameras and microphones. We will help you. "There is a parallel universe for state legislators and it is online," says K'Lynn Sloan Harris, audio-video coordinator for the Montana Legislative Services Division and chair of LINCS. "That world feeds off videos, livestreaming and social media. These platforms can be your friends." We are here to help you keep up with it all and to build positive relationships with the media, because they provide the means for bringing transparency to the process and getting your message to your constituents. A word of caution, however: Don't have a conversation near a microphone or in a room with a camera--and that could be just about anywhere these days--that you wouldn 't be comfortable having repeated in the media or online. "Everything is captured," warns Lauren Hieger, communications director for the majo rity caucus in the Missouri Senate.


Social media is not just social.

What started out as a way for a few college kids to connect with one another has evolved into the way for virtually everyone to communicate. And we're way past social. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone...

To continue reading