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Postal Inspectors: Not Secret, No Longer Silent

NCJ Number
THE POLICE CHIEF Volume: 74 Issue: 12 Dated: December 2007 Pages: 38,40,41
Douglas Bem
Date Published
December 2007
3 pages
In describing the Postal Inspection Service's public information program, this article focuses on the responsibilities and tasks of postal inspectors assigned to be public information officers (PIOs).
The article advises PIOs to give priority to the five "Cs" of effective communication: credibility, candor, clarity, compassion, and commitment. Credibility involves providing factual, accurate information. Candor supports credibility by acknowledging mistakes and errors and addressing negative performance as well as excellent performance. Clarity involves making messages sufficiently clear so that they do not pose a risk of misunderstanding or distortion in reporting by others. Compassion refers to understanding and appreciating the pressures under which reporters work and in not demeaning them as a response to unwelcome questions. PIOs must also commit themselves to informing the media on specific cases and the work of the Postal Inspection Service. In addition to the five "Cs" of communication, seven tips for PIOs are outlined. These include creating subject files that keep track of applicable documents that might be needed for quick reference, making contacts with key media persons, knowing the essentials of contacting the media, dressing conservatively and professionally, and asking reporters before an interview what questions they are interested in having answered. PIOs are also advised to keep professionals within their agencies informed of media interest in various events, and they should develop and use resources within and outside their agencies. Suggestions for additional PIO duties are to coordinate public information when engaged in a multiagency operation, the use of items of visual interest in communications with television media reporters, and attention to the protection of operations that may be adversely affected by making certain information public.