MEDIA RELATIONS POLICY
The City of Chula Vista seeks to inform its residents, businesses
and visitors by engaging in a pro-active communications program.
This program recognizes that one of the most effective and quickest
ways to communicate City policies and activities to citizens is
by working in partnership with the news media.
Inquiries from the news media are given a high priority by the
City of Chula Vista and should be responded to as quickly and efficiently
as possible. Every effort should be made to meet media deadlines
and to ensure that all information released is accurate.
The Office of Communications is responsible for the City’s
media relations, with the exception of most public safety issues.
All City employees should notify the Office of Communications (which
includes the Public Information Officer/PIO) about media inquiries.
The majority of City media requests are initiated when the media
contacts the Office of Communications. Because the media often works
on tight deadlines, it is important that all departments respond
as soon as possible when the Office of Communications requests department
information or a spokesperson for the media. Specific guidelines
for responding to media requests follow.
Unless otherwise authorized, the City’s spokespersons are:
- Mayor and City Council members
- City Manager, Assistant City Managers and Deputy City Manager
- City Attorney, City Clerk
- Department Heads and Assistant Department Heads
- Office of Communications/Public Information Officer
- Police Department and Fire Department Public Information Officers
(Police and Fire have specific media policies that govern their
- Exceptions regarding departmental spokespersons may be made
at the discretion of the Department Head.
media inquiries received by other City staff should be referred
immediately to the Office of Communications and their Department
Head/ Assistant Department Head. An appropriate response to the
media would be, “I’m sorry I don’t have the full
information regarding that issue. I will give your request to my
Department Director (or the City’s Public Information Officer)
who will respond to you as soon as he/she is available. “
Please obtain the reporter’s name, phone number (cell too
if “in the field”), topic of story and deadline.
SENSITIVE OR CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES:
All television, radio, newspaper or other media inquiries regarding
sensitive or controversial issues should always be referred immediately
to the Office of Communications and the employee’s Department
Head or Assistant Department Head. Communications staff will contact
the City Manager’s Office and coordinate a response including
designating a spokesperson after consultation with the City Manager’s
Office and the appropriate Department.
LITIGATION, PERSONNEL AND ELECTION ISSUES:
Generally, the business conducted by the City of Chula Vista is
public, and therefore, is public information. Inquiries regarding
pending litigation, matters involving a significant exposure to
litigation and certain personnel-related information are exceptions.
Inquiries regarding pending litigation or exposure to litigation
should be referred to the City Attorney’s Office and the Office
of Communications. Inquiries regarding personnel-related information
should be referred to the Human Resources Department and the Office
of Communications. The Office of Communications will notify the
City Manager’s Office.
Inquiries regarding election and campaign issues should be referred
to the City Clerk or Assistant City Clerk. The City Clerk will contact
the City Manager’s Office, City Attorney’s Office and
Office of Communications as appropriate.
PERSONAL POINTS OF VIEW
It is recognized that all employees have the right to their personal
points of view regarding any issue. However, personal points of
view may conflict with the City’s official policy. Therefore,
City employees who write letters to the editor of any newspaper
may not use official City stationary. If an employee chooses to
identify himself or herself as a City employee in any personal letter
or email to the editor, he or she must include language which states
the views set forth in the letter do no represent the views of the
City, but rather, are the employee’s personally held opinions.
Similar disclaimers must be given if an employee addresses a public
meeting, participates in a radio talk show, or is interviewed for
a radio or television program unless the employee is officially
representing the City. Employees who are representing the City in
any of the above formats must identify themselves as an official
spokesperson for the City.
GENERAL OR ROUTINE ISSUES:
Broadcast media: Calls from broadcast media (TV and radio) should
always be referred immediately to the Office of Communications and
the employee’s Department Head or Assistant Department Head.
Communications staff will contact the City Manager’s Office
and coordinate a response including designating a spokesperson after
consultation with the City Manager’s Office and the relevant
Local print media: Calls from local print media regarding most
departmental issues and programs may be handled by each department’s
Director or Assistant Director. On occasion the Director/Assistant
Director may designate an employee in their department to respond
to specific questions from print media. The Office of Communications
should be informed of these media requests---including the reporter
and topic---either before or immediately following these interviews.
Most proactive media contact is initiated through the Office of
Communications. This includes issuing press releases and media advisories,
and personal contacts with reporters and editors for coverage. Departments
seeking publicity for events or activities should complete the “Department
News Form” and submit to the Office of Communications as soon
as possible to ensure the best media coverage of their activities.
(Form is attached and also is available on the intranet.)
Departments should not initiate news media contacts before notifying
the Office of Communications.
PUBLIC SAFETY ISSUES:
the Police and Fire Departments operate 24/7 and their work generates
a high volume of media calls, those departments have designated
sworn personnel as media spokespersons and follow specific guidelines
when releasing information. Any media calls to other City staff
regarding a Police or Fire issue should be referred immediately
to the Police Department or Fire Department, as appropriate. All
information released to the media by the Police and Fire Departments
should be provided immediately to the City Manager’s Office
and the Office of Communications; and, when appropriate, those offices
should be contacted at the time of major incidents.
CRISIS OR EMERGENCY ISSUES:
During a crisis or major emergency (i.e. earthquake), the procedure
for handling the media is highlighted in the City’s Emergency
Plan. The plan designates the City’s Public Information Officer
as the main point of contact for the media. The Public Information
Officer is assisted by alternates including the Police and Fire
Public Information Officers who prepare and disseminate emergency