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The connection between effective communication for court staff and the media

December 29, 2021

By Dimarie Alicea-Lozada

Organizations need to engage in open and honest communication to develop transparency – a key element in building trust. Transparency is especially important during difficult times, according to human resources expert, Marcy L. Curth, a presenter at the October 2021 Mid-Atlantic Association for Court Management (MAACM) Conference.

During “Communicate During Difficult Times - A Look at Transparency,” Curth outlined several elements of effective communication, for example:

  • Good listening skills;
  • Clear messages;
  • Appropriate timing;
  • Repetition;
  • Word choice; and
  • Two-way communication.

Many of the same elements for effective communication to staff and the courts’ constituents are also critical for successful media relations. Published in 2020, the “Media Guide for Today’s Courts: Managing the Message” provides a comprehensive resource developed by the National Association for Court Management (NACM) and the Conference of Court Public Information Officers (CCPIO).  The guide’s four chapters focus on:

  • Communicating the court’s message – A communication plan can assist courts in conveying a unified message – whether it be through a designated public information officer (PIO) or designee who can respond appropriately and consistently to media inquiries.
  • Drafting an effective press release - Courts should thoughtfully consider the audience when developing relevant press releases.
  • Social media - Social media can assist courts with public engagement and improved transparency. Understanding social media best practices and creating a comprehensive social media policy can help courts use these channels effectively.
  • Managing high-profile trials and emergency situations – Proper media planning is especially important for high-profile court events and emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators issued a joint resolution in 2019 that urges courts to write in a clear, concise, and easily comprehensible manner, and consider streamlining court procedures and legal requirements to improve access to all court users. Transparency and clear messaging are even more important in difficult times as the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated.

What inventive ways has your court used to communicate with the media or court staff?  Share your experiences with us at Knowledge@ncsc.org or call 800-616-6164.  Follow the National Center for State Courts on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Vimeo.