WASHINGTON: Listeners to WBUR in Massachusetts last Tuesday received news of their state's latest employment numbers.
But that information didn't come from a local reporter or state official, but from Alison Kaufman, chief of staff at the US Department of Commerce and a Massachusetts native.
The same could be said of television and radio audiences all over the country, who for the past several months have been hearing their local employment numbers from sometimes high-ranking federal employees who hail from nearby towns.
That pattern is the result of a rare inter-agency PR initiative within the Bush administration to improve its image as an economic steward in even the most remote parts of the country.
By identifying staffers from different states or localities and pitching them as economic spokespeople to local media, the administration hopes to better tailor its message to regional concerns and attitudes, thereby increasing the perception that President Bush is actively engaged on economic and employment issues.
"The American people pay attention first to what's going on in their community," said Ron Bonjean, DoC director of public affairs. "So the state employment numbers [released monthly by the Department of Labor] are a great platform to get our message out."
Bonjean said the tactic is an outgrowth of the administration's continuing push to let the American people know "help is on the way."
"When you're on offense, you leave no stone unturned," he added.
Other agencies involved include the Department of Treasury and the Small Business Administration.
The effort cuts across ethnic lines as well. Dan Nelson, DoC press secretary, is one of several spokespeople regularly addressing members of the Hispanic media.
Last week Nelson appeared on CNN Radio Noticias, Radio Caracol in Miami, Cadena Fantastica radio, in Orlando, and WCRM-1350AM in Fort Myers, among others.