Posts Tagged: Carl Fillichio

“Never Go to an Interview Alone”

“Never Go to an Interview Alone”:  Public Information Officers and the Politics of Communication in the Executive Branch

By Norman Kelley

Did you know that nearly every time a reporter interviews a public official on the record for a publication like Understanding Government, there are usually three people in the room? That’s right – there’s the reporter, the subject of the interview (in our case, officials at different government agencies we have been talking to for our “Public Service Announcement” series), and one other person.  That person usually has the unassuming title of Public Information Officer, or PIO (also known as “public affairs specialists”).  And that person’s job, in a nutshell, is to make sure that the interviewee says the right things and that the reporter doesn’t report the wrong things.

Given the Obama administration’s stated support for open government and transparency in decision-making, we decided to take a look at exactly why the Obama Administration, and many administrations before his, have been so convinced that their high-ranking staff members need to have such close supervision when they “meet the press.”  Are we talking about information-restricting “handlers,” or experts who are guarantee that the public is getting correct information about what government is doing?  The role of public information officers (also known as public affairs specialists) may be well-known to reporters who want to learn the truth, but it is more or less invisible to the general public. (more…)

PSA: Carl Fillichio on “The Best Gig You Can Have”

Part of Understanding Government’s new Public Service Announcement series featuring federal employees and profiles of what they do

By Norman Kelley

You would expect a certain amount of spin from an interview with a Labor Department public affairs official about his work. However, Carl Fillichio truly likes what he does, so his aim is true.

Preferring to call his recent installment at the U. S. Dept. of Labor a “second go at the rodeo,” Carl Fillichio, Senior Adviser to the Secretary of Labor for Public Affairs and Communications, is ebullient about his work and the mission of getting the department’s message out.

“The way I look at communications, it’s not just issuing press releases, or doing press conferences or doing a newsletter, it is events and speaking engagements, and all sorts of opportunities to get our message out. I have my finger in all that type of stuff.”

Previously a Clinton appointee who served under Labor secretaries Robert Reich and Alexis Hermann, Fillichio engages in the full panoply of media for the department. “It’s the best gig you can have, public service.” (more…)