Working together to protect our future
 
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A BAPTISM OF FIRE

I generally try to avoid cliches like the plague, but my first few weeks with the NT Police Association could be described, as nothing other than a baptism of fire. I arrived just a few weeks out from Christmas, smack-bang in the middle of Consent Agreement negotiations, a process I was grossly unfamiliar with.

Between the Christmas and New Year's break I was cordially bundled on a plane down to Alice Springs to help launch the next round of CA roadshow presentations.

Cue a crash-course in NTPA bargaining, and without sounding like a complete fan- girl, an immediate recognition and respect of how hard our President Paul and Field Officer Solly (and all the men and women behind the scenes) have worked to secure some excellent long-term outcomes for our members.

One of my main aims in this role is to promote more positive stories about policing in the Territory. I want to help showcase the unique and rewarding aspects of, specifically, remote and regional policing in the hope more people put their hand up to give it a go.

So, if you've got a story you think the rest of us should know about please get in touch kyrrie.blenkinsop@ntpa.com.au we'd love to hear from you!

THE MEDIA & THE MACHINE

Whether you religiously turn on Channel Nine's 6.00pm news, avidly listen to 105.7 ABC Radio or Mix 104.9, can't wait to open the front page of the NT News each morning, or divorce the traditional media in favour of online content, the media as a whole plays an incredibly important newsgathering role in our society. (Whether you personally see that content as newsworthy is obviously a different matter altogether ..)

To borrow another timeworn cliche, if it bleeds, it leads. Somewhere along the way, news evolved from a simple public service into a ratings and circulation juggernaut. Every outlet obsessed with the exclusive story, or the money shot - that picture that perfectly captures the desperation of a family battling to cyclone-proof their home before a category five storm hits, or the grief of a mother who's just been told her son was involved in a high-speed car crash. This fear-based reporting style often sees the media labelled vultures, preying on people at their most vulnerable.

Herein lies the battle for Public Relations, to promote the positive among the doom and gloom. Traditionally the Police Force has had a turbulent relationship with the media. It's a constant struggle to curtail leaks, prevent specifics of sensitive operational matters becoming public, while depending on the media to help deliver important community safety announcements.

In my current role, I often joke it's liberating being on the other side (after years of being stonewalled), where Police Officers actually want to talk to me! I recognise the value of a carefully crafted and coordinated response, but silence can sometimes lead to a culture of suspicion or whistle-blowing. That is, in no way, directed at the hard-working men and women of the NT Police, but rather the people who are in a position to convey messages on behalf of the Force.

Having worked both sides of the PR machine: whether it be bluntly demanding information from an uncooperative government department, or popping up a covert roadblock between a key talking head and a journalist on a suspected fishing expedition, I thrive on being part of the news cycle. And I staunchly believe the key to successful Public Relations is relationships: keeping the communication channels open. It's up to media departments to work proactively with newsrooms, particularly when navigating unfavourable or adverse publicity, or risk crickets and tumbleweeds when trying to flog a good news story.