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Thoughts and Ideas

Suggested Media Guidelines

Suggested Guidelines in Conducting Media Briefings and Issuing Press Releases on Government Programs

By Art Tibaldo

The media are highly influential. They can use their influence to enhance ones public image.

The media can also sensationalize a story. They can circulate inaccurate and incomplete information and use their influence in ways that may damage a good public image.

Following are suggested guidelines for government units that may from time to time require media attention to advocate and promote their office programs and functions. Although not considered a fool proof approach, anything can happen as the media believes in Murphy's Law-If anything can go wrong-it will.

Press Briefings
Prior to any media advocacy such as radio interviews, press releases, and press conferences, it is best that a specific talking point or subject matter be defined and internalized in its entirety by the officials involved.

For purposes of clarity and in order not to be misunderstood by the media, technical terms and jargons used in the bureaucracy such as K.R.A. (key result area) or K.I.A. (killed in action) must be explained in a l-a-y-m-a-n-i-z-e-d manner as the same will be read and heard by the general public.

It is wise to be equipped with a printed general statement or list of talking points prior to appearances in radio and TV shows.
Unless otherwise cleared by the department's legal officer, mentioning of a specific product or a brand on air or during interviews must be avoided in order not to be sited for promoting or defaming the same.

Persons who appear on television should look smart in business attire and must not wear any expensive looking jewelry. This is embodied in the Philippine Constitution stating that a public official must lead a modest life.

Do not use white upper garments during television interviews as this tends to make flesh tones darker. This is a technical reality in local cable television studios that uses consumer camcorders and non-broadcast facilities.

Do not use a power point presentation in media briefings. It is best to provide media with a briefing kit containing a detailed explanation of a specific project or program.

The media are particular with success stories. A two kilometer farm-to-market road is not good news to media, the media would rather write about how the farm to market road improved the lives of the people living in the area.

Praise Releases
Write press releases not praise releases. Do not emphasize the accomplishment and educational background of a particular official in the bureaucracy as he or she is expected to be competent and serve the public with utmost responsibility and integrity. This is also embodied in the Philippine Constitution that a public official is a public trust that he or she must at all times be accountable to the people he or she serves.

Government public information officers or PIOs should write straight facts and not play with words. A quoted important statement must at least be backed by a recorded tape or printed minutes of meeting for editors to double check and verify on.

No news is good news?
Don't let your big boss get caught by the media flat footed. Should there be issues and concerns emanating from your area that can attract national attention, brief your big boss and suggest actions.

Following the issue of giant earthworms affecting the paddies of the world renowned Banaue Rice Terraces, Manila reporters interviewed the then Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and the poor cabinet officer had nothing brilliant to say about it.

Do not bribe the media
When things went wrong with your program and reporters in your community come asking for explanation, do not hide.
The truth hurts but it is the truth and one can't hide from it. Seek advice from your legal officer and probably get a second opinion or consult a senior member of the practicing media for advice. Should an apology be in order, apologize, accept the consequences and correct what was wrong.

Cover up or bribery will only aggravate the situation and more conflicting angles will arise.

Souvenir Programs and Ad placements

Anything paid with the consideration of having a name of office, photograph of an official or projects is advertisement. Since the Commission of Audit (COA) does not allow reimbursement of receipts for purposes of promotions, it is therefore unlikely that government officials and programs appear on the boxed pages of any publications.

Attending media parties and gatherings is fine as this is an appropriate time to introduce the human resources behind the government service. This is where the information officer of a particular office can introduce his/her chief to members of the practicing media. There is mutual respect when an official addresses the media by their names.

Where are Our Creative People?
Trade Talk by Art Tibaldo

Many of us Filipinos are naturally creative. We excel in many fields of art be it in the visual, performing, music, fashion, you name it, we Pinoys have remarkable achievements.

Pinggot Vinluan Zulueta was my classmate in UST College of Fine Arts.
While we were still in college, he became the Varsitarian's Editorial Cartoonist.
About ten years after our school days, he ended up as a beat photojournalist of the Manila Bulletin. I later found out that Pinggot migrated to New Zealand and this is due to the high cost of living in Manila and the low income that the industry dictates. Pinggot is now an aerial photographer living with his own family and his artworks can be seen through the internet.

If you missed the sarcastic but politically correct caricatures in one of our national dailies, it is because, Jose Tence Ruiz whom we fondly call Boogie way back in UST days is now gainfully employed in Singapore as an artist cum creative director.

Cesar Asar, a popular comic strip is no longer seen in circulation. Its creator Roxlee who was my co-scholar in MOWELFUND is now doing well as an animator in a Japanese based animation studio.

Over the past years, we have learned that the distinctive elements that we Filipinos provide to the global market like creativity, artistry, craftsmanship, and innovativeness, are becoming more and more apparent and these are valuable factors that differentiate us from our neighbors in the global community.
In September this year, DTI Secretary Peter B. Favila said that the Department of Trade and Industry is continuously seeking ways to reinforce the country's creative infrastructure. The DTI Chief added that the department remains upbeat about the prospects of the Creative Industries as a driver for economic vitality. The DTI is confident in the value and strength of our human resources and their capacity for economically rewarding endeavors.
Grace Dimaranan, the CEO, of Top Peg Animation and Vice President of the Animation Council of the Philippines who was here for a DTI organized IT forum e-mailed me saying that the industry needs new batch of 2D animators.

Dimaranan said that a course where students can learn the basics & principles of animation in the Industry-level standards can be offered by her organization in Baguio.
The course will require a 3 to 4 months training with per month evaluation of the capability of student basing on drawing skill, technical skill, attitude & creativity.
The animation executive said that although their company will provide the trainor's fee, It would be best if we can get sponsors, funding and assistance from LGU's to pursue this.
If there's a private organization or businessmen willing to provide assistance, the training cost estimated to be about 18-24 thousand per participant will be greatly reduced.
Those interested in the basic two-dimensional and 3D computer based animation may get in touch with this writer at the DTI-CAR office at 3rd floor, Jesnor Building, Carino Street or email me at: Let's animate.