Good media relations benefits the Civil Air Patrol. When CAP helps the media with the job of gathering and reporting the news, we are also helping communicate CAP’s story to the public. Through good media relations, CAP can strengthen community support and attract new members. Providing this kind of assistance also discharges our responsibility as a corporation funded by Congress to be accountable to the public.
The foundation of good media relations is the coordination, uniformity, accuracy and timeliness of the information released. Consequently, all requests for information from the media should be directed to the squadron, group, wing or region public affairs officer, CAP National Headquarters Public Affairs or the squadron, group, wing or region commander’s designee in the absence of a PAO. CAP National Headquarters Public Affairs provides assistance to all PAOs, as requested, in handling media relations.
Most inquires by journalists will concern activities that are a matter of public record and that CAP has an interest in promoting. Sometimes, however, reporters will inquire about documents, litigation or personnel matters. The squadron, group, wing or region PAO, CAP National Headquarters Public Affairs or a squadron, group, wing or region commander’s designee, all of whom are trained to know how to handle these inquiries, are the coordinating entity for responding to these type of media inquiries.
Regarding information requested by the media on cadets, the squadron, group, wing or region PAO complies with federal laws governing cadets’ right to privacy. With a cadets’ permission, almost any information can be released. However, without a cadet’s permission, only the name, rank, hometown and unit may be released.
If a media representative contacts individual members with a request for an interview or for information, those members should direct the representative to their respective unit PAO. In the event there is a request for an interview with national-level leadership, CAP National Headquarters Public Affairs can assist with the coordination and scheduling of requested media interviews.
All news releases, public service announcements or other statements to the media regarding CAP events, activities, programs or members should be released through the squadron, group, wing or region PAO or CAP National Headquarters Public Affairs.
During emergency and disaster relief missions, information should be released in a timely manner to the media through a wing’s mission information officer or designated mission base spokesperson. During emergency or disaster relief missions that involve multiple wings and multiple regions, information may also be disseminated to the media at the CAP National Headquarters Public Affairs level.
CAP encourages the release of photos to the media to tell the CAP story. CAP National Headquarters does not require a photo release form to be signed by members who appear in a photo prior to its release to the media if the photo being considered for release was taken in a public setting, e.g., encampment, weekly squadron meeting, etc. The only time a photo release form must be provided is when commercial use of a photo is anticipated, e.g., publication in a book, merchandising, etc. For mission-related photos, PAOs at all levels must consider the sensitivity of the mission and the need to coordinate formal approval for release with the lead agency.