New York Press Club Doesn’t Care for de Blasio’s Media Relations Strategy

de blasio

Today the mayor of our hometown gives us a nice lesson in how not to please certain local journalists.

Mayor Bill de Blasio won office in a 2013 landslide thanks, in no small part, to the work of BerlinRosen Public Affairs.

Yet some of the journalists involved in the New York Press Club seem to think that the firm could have taught him a bit more about media relations.

The letter/official airing of grievances signed by NYPC president Larry Seary after the jump. A hint: it involves message management.

Honorable Bill de Blasio

Mayor, City of New York
City Hall
New York, NY 10007
Dear Mr. Mayor:
Eight months have passed since you took office as New York City’s 109th mayor.
This organization, which since 1948 has represented this city’s journalists, is deeply disturbed by a pattern that has emerged in the way you deal with reporters seeking information in the interest of the people of New York.
You list a daily schedule for yourself in which some events are designated as “open press” and others are described as “closed press.” You list still other events with a condition, “no q. and a.” Another condition that you set sometimes is taking questions only on a particular topic. When reporters try to get answers on other matters deemed vital to their readers, viewers or listeners, you admonish them: “On topic!” and refuse to take questions on a subject not set by you. That anti-press gimmick was invented by Michael Bloomberg.
You have departed from a precedent set by at least eight mayors before you, which has been to take questions in open press conferences without restriction as to the subject matter.
You have promised to run a “transparent” administration. But the conditions you set on virtually a daily basis are not transparent but opaque. What gives you the right to set the agenda for what journalists can ask you about? Is that in keeping with the fundamental right of freedom of the press?
We think not—-and we urge you to change your policy and open City Hall to free discussion of issues—at least by taking questions on all matters that reporters believe concern your constituents and theirs.
It’s time for a change, time to let in the sunlight. It is sad that a man who deems himself a progressive, is retrogressive—-when freedom of the press is at stake.
Larry Seary
The New York Press Club

Anyone who has followed the Obama administration’s media relations strategies in recent years knows that myths about a sycophantic relationship between progressive politicians and that monolithic entity known as “the media” are just that — myths.

In a perfect world, we’d all prefer for interviewers to stay on topic, but if there’s a guaranteed way to annoy journalists, it’s trying to heavily regulate the questions they can and can’t ask at what should be open press events. This is part of the responsibility one accepts when opting to run for office.

It’s particularly off-putting coming from a self-described populist who does not seem to realize that the press acts as the middleman between himself and the public he lives to serve.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.