Above and below the line: Strategic communication and media management in the Canadian government.
Marland, A., 2017. Above and below the line: Strategic communications and media management in Canadian governments. Canadian Public Administration, 60(3), pp.417-437.
This report tries to examine the media relations planning template which includes government calendars, event proposals, communication plans etc. All of these are useful for coordinating the release of government information to the public. It contains the guidelines of the Canadian government which is divided into six stages. These include planning authorization, strategic planning, logical planning, tactical planning and approval of media products and evaluation. The report emphasizes on the new understudies that are media relations planning government. The panning phase is purposely hidden so that people have no or little information about it. It is because readers are unaware of the fact that political people or people in power often control and spin the information that is released to us. It raises critical questions on the politicization of the government which create a further room for research. Communication management can exist both as formal and informal ways in the government.
Formal policies help in governing how public servant manage the records, how they protect, treat and classify the data, how they guard the personal details and organize the information and so on. Informal processes also arise from the government through some executives of the political party who share the information with the public in a sudden desire or change of mind. This indicates that all information which is shared in the media is not subject to disclosure despite it gets released with a motive to get support from the people who support the party. Even slants are added in the information to persuade the public and their course of action. Nowadays people are using digital media to directly target audience without applying any sort of filter in it. Media which is a public servant machine that’s duty is to release impartial information is often found to be sandwiched between the political parties. It is the observers of government who differentiate above the line and below the line of communication.
The government of Canada released the message event proposal in 2008 during the communication crises. This template would help the officers to plan out which information is to be communicated to the people. This information is presented by a journalist who has access to the source of the information. MEP was a very helpful tool for compartmentalizing information and allowing the political leaders to take facts and package them into standardized procedural knowledge. No doubt, media tools are very important but they also trouble the people. It makes it very difficult for the people to differentiate government form the part and similarly public servants from political operatives. Besides it, there are many avenues related to government communication like when it was released, what was the purpose of release, which type of medium was used during the release and so on. There are more than 20 types of communication tools available which one will be used based on the information type.
In addition to this, it was also identified that there are hurdles associated with planning tools. These hurdles include how to find establish the existence of hidden processes and how to prove the data collected which does not have any evidence and the other hurdle was how to classify the diverse communication template.
Similar questions were raised on hidden planning processes in administration and jurisdictions. A very little is known about the party message thus there is a need for discovery. The first phase of the research was about the federal process whereas the second phase outlined the information collected from different places. A multistep method was used to collect the data by sending emails to the federal, provincial and government departments. Two hundred seventy-five files were collected from different organizations across fourteen governments.
Above the line, activities are carefully planned and crafted before releasing it to the people by utilizing various activities like messaging campaigns and so on. It tries to reveal what the government of Canada wants to release. It is found that an outward form of the document is released on the website that keeps a record of the government decisions and actions taken. It also uses photo-op to attract the people towards it. On the other hand, below the line communication is a process by which a news agenda is shaped, rebutted, changes by planting stories which did not occur. These type of information are not for public consumption. Above the line communication takes places after countless planning of the government whereas as below the line communication does not require much planning.
Although there are templates available for below the line of communication as well. Through the entire report, it was identified that government cannot run or communicate important information without having a complete mechanism where planning is done strategically from all the points of view before releasing any sort of information through media to the people. There is a need for investigating the communication tools used by the government authority deeply because the structure of the instruments differs in a different department. It is also important for us to understand things which are not written. When the template for an importation does not exist to invites creativity and entrepreneurialism. At last, it also asks us a question that if media tools are for the interest of the people than why below the line templates are not made public for the people to have access to the internal information of the government bodies. It should also be made public for easy access.
Brown, D.C. and Toze, S., 2017. Information governance in digitized public administration. Canadian public administration, 60(4), pp.581-604
Information governance is an emerging concept which encapsulates the government information in the digital era. Information plays a central role in decision-making processes for public administrations. It was identified form the research that public admiration in 1987 where based on paper and postal service but it got transformed into typewriter and telephone. It was in 1967 the information governance further changed to electronic data and photocopies. Now, it is operating in the digital environment through mobile networks. It is a new form of technology which is in the designing and developing phase. It is because of the digital era, information centred organization are able to manage information and data throughout the life cycle of the project. It shapes the basis of decisions in current and future policies.
The entire report is based on the legacy system of past that were used for information governance to that of the future where mobile platforms and agile methods changed the modes of transmission, information retrieval and information management. Information is an essential tool of the government and this is the reason why government collects, process, analyze, produce, use and reuse, disseminate, protect and dispose of the information. This information life cycle is particularly important in the areas where the government establishes a relationship with the society for providing services to the public by accessing information, protecting personal information and so on. Information governance is a digitized form of public administration. It makes the effective use of the information that lies at the heart of the governance. The nature of government information is as complex as the government itself. The information collected by the government comes from the society, organization and the entire nation. Thus it becomes important for the government to protect the sensitive information of the society and nation's interest from the people who can misuse it for the personal gains. Despite this, the government has paid very less attention to manage the information as a public resource. This article thus tried to explain how information governance can provide a foundation to the government so that it can meet the current needs and manage the information over time with the help of digital technologies.
The entire article has collected data in the qualitative form from the literature. It then surveys the insights that are collected from the scholarly journals to understand the importance of information governance and how it can be practised by the public administrations in the digital era. It also highlights the challenges faced in information governance and management by the public administrations.
The new areas of information governance are open-ended and are accelerating at a high speed. It is, therefore, necessary to understand how the government manages the stock of information and maintains its transparency and accountability keeping the laws and principle of the government intact. The government of Canada defined an information resource as a material that is produced in published and unpublished form regardless of the communication source and the format of the information. A piece of information can be recorded in a variety of forms like a textual record, sound record, electronic record, documentary, photography, artefacts and so on. Earlier a vast variety of information was recorded in the form of paper but now everything is digitized. The information is stored in the data centres and clouds. The biggest challenge for the government is how it will manage to store the internal records of the administration and how it will adapt itself with the new technology. There is a need for the government to ensure that even the public administration remains in touch with the wavelength of the new technology. It is observed that larger demographic access social media for information. The government, in order to communicate important information, must use social media as a form of communication. It also needs to understand that with the change in technology this will also become a traditional form and to keep pace with the society it will again have to transform its information governance according to the new technology.
The biggest challenge for the government is to reconcile the element of the new environment with the legacy of the past and to value the information as a resource. Another issue is the mapping of information. It is very important to gain useful insights form different terrains of information which can be done by mapping the information accurately. There are other things as well like international comparison, collaboration, evolving role of the private sector in digitization, historic legacy of information public service and so on. The information and communication technology plays a very important role in reforming services of the government and public service itself. It also emphasizes how these work. The government need to understand the permanent revolution and must prepare itself so that it can maintain accountability, transparency and integrity in the information of the public sector.
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