“Satellite Program Offers Help to Those Who Face Media for Church,” Ensign, July 1986, 74
Local public communications representatives gathered in stake centers throughout the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico to receive counsel from three Church leaders and training from a media consultant during a special satellite broadcast May 10.
President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, and Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Council of the Twelve spoke preceding the training offered by Peter Jacobi, a professor of communications at Indiana University. Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Council of the Twelve followed, adding another perspective on public communications service.
Elder Maxwell’s talk opened the program. Then Mr. Jacobi introduced his three-hour presentation with videotaped comments by President Hinckley. President Hinckley commented that critics who use the media against the Church are not so distressing as the wasted opportunities when Church leaders and members “are less successful in getting our positive image over than we would like to be.”
Elder Maxwell noted that the public communications efforts of the Church have a dual purpose: preparing a more receptive climate for the gospel message and correcting abusive climates.
“Overall, the perception of us as a church and people will improve in direct proportion to the degree to which we mirror the Master in our lives,” he said.
Elder Packer urged those taking part in the day’s training to keep in mind, while learning how to paint a positive picture of the Church, that it is not the Church of Happy Families, of Excellent Youth Activities, of Comfortable Buildings. “This is the Church of Jesus Christ. He is the head of it. Remember that,” he emphasized.
“We’re not seeking for popularity. We’re seeking to extend the information on the truths of the gospel as widely as we can.”
Mr. Jacobi’s presentation was geared toward making communications representatives more comfortable in dealing with television.
His presentation included advice on preparation, on what to do during an interview, on turning challenging discussions into opportunities to highlight the positive, and on explaining LDS beliefs to those unfamiliar with Church doctrines and terminology.
Material sent out prior to the broadcast suggested that a videotape be made at each local receiver site for later use. There is also a two-hour training tape that dramatizes challenging interview situations and suggests ways to handle them.
Inquiries about the videotapes should be addressed to Public Communications/Special Affairs, 25th Floor, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84150, or telephone (801) 531-3229.