Welcome to Church public affairs work! Your service in public affairs will be different from your previous Church callings, but it should be just as exciting and spiritually rewarding.
The perceptions that community leaders, government officials, news media, and others hold about the Church can directly affect its success. In public affairs work you will have the opportunity to help shape those perceptions as you communicate accurate and positive information and help to develop trusting relationships on behalf of priesthood leaders.
Above all, you will be helping influential people who are not of our faith to recognize The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a positive influence in the world and its members as sincere and diligent disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
What Is Public Affairs?
Public affairs is a priesthood program that helps Church leaders build positive, trusting relationships with influential individuals not of our faith. Public affairs work in the Church is similar to the secular practice of public relations, a leadership function that helps organizations and individuals to build positive relationships and communicate positive and accurate messages. Through your efforts in public affairs, the Church in your area will be better understood and more appreciated.
Public Affairs — A Priesthood Program
Public affairs is different in many ways from other Church callings, but like all others, it is directed by priesthood authority. Faithfully following the inspired direction of your priesthood adviser is one of the most important aspects of your calling.
The Core Purpose of Public Affairs
Though public affairs work focuses on those not of our faith, conversion is not its main goal. Public affairs is primarily concerned with helping priesthood leaders to establish positive relationships with key individuals. These individuals, commonly referred to as opinion leaders, are those who can affect the public reputation of the Church or who can help or hinder the Church in the achievement of its mission. Building these relationships constitutes the core purpose of public affairs. Public affairs also helps the Church communicate its message through positive media relations.
Personally preparing yourself to serve through study, prayer, and pondering is essential to your success. Learn all you can from the public affairs materials published by the Church (including this site) so that you can equip yourself with knowledge that the Holy Ghost can use in guiding your decisions and actions.
A Unique Call
The outward focus of public affairs toward those not of our faith and the sometimes secular nature of public affairs work make it unique among Church callings. This can sometimes make it difficult to understand and explain to others. But like other Church callings, public affairs is a spiritual work that is wholly dependent on the guidance of the Holy Ghost for its success. Though the work itself often bears more resemblance to activities from the professional and secular world than service rendered by other Church members, it should be spiritually satisfying to those called by inspiration into public affairs councils.
A Worldwide Work
Public affairs is a worldwide Church function providing service nearly everywhere the Church is organized and in many places where the Church is not yet fully organized. The full-time work of the Church Public Affairs Department, conducted under the supervision of the First Presidency and the Church Public Affairs Committee, is complemented by the work of thousands of called public affairs directors and public affairs council members at the stake, multistake, national, and Church area levels throughout the world. You and the members of your public affairs council should recognize that you are part of a worldwide team and that your efforts reflect on the Church as a whole.
Public Affairs Councils
The inspired system of Church councils also applies to public affairs. A public affairs council typically consists of a priesthood adviser, a director of public affairs, and two assistant directors. Priesthood leaders may call other specialists to the council as needed. The council develops an annual plan and budget and meets regularly to counsel together and to seek inspiration. Council meetings should be used for planning, proposing, and evaluating new ideas, preparing for activities, and evaluating past efforts.
The Value of Relationships
Church history is replete with examples of influential individuals, not of our faith, who have befriended the Church. Favorably impressed with the good that the Church represents, such individuals frequently endorse Church actions, authorize Church requests, or defend the Church in times of need. Positive relationships provide the foundation for all of these benefits.
A Three-Step Process for Building Opinion Leader Relationships
The recommended approach to building relationships involves three steps: (1) identify the objectives of the Church leaders in the area (the “What”); (2) identify opinion leaders who are most likely to affect the outcome of efforts to meet those objectives (the “Who”); (3) plan and implement appropriate and relevant activities that will help establish strong relationships with identified opinion leaders (the “How”). This approach is recommended for public affairs councils at all levels.
Working with the Media
Key members of the media are important opinion leaders. Because of the media's unique work and influence, building relationships with them requires special understanding and effort. Public affairs councils should become very familiar with and proficient in the specifics of working with the media.
All public affairs council members should become very familiar with the Church Newsroom for news media, where the Church publishes current events and news for media representatives and opinion leaders. The Newsroom is also filled with helpful background and statistical information on the Church, its history, and its programs, as well as valuable resources such as photos and video clips that help to tell the Church’s story. Corrections to erroneous reporting about the Church and Church editorials on current issues are also posted on the Newsroom.
Other Public Affairs Resources
This Web site is your best guide to doing Church public affairs work and supercedes all previously published guidelines. Here you will find many resources, such as photographs, videos, document templates, and more that will help to enhance your local public affairs efforts. New resources will be added continuously to this site so return often for additional helps.
Frequently Asked Questions
In public affairs work, questions inevitably arise. Most can be answered from information on this site. Any other questions should first be referred to the appropriate mulitstake, national or area director of public affairs, or to the appropriate public affairs priesthood adviser. Click here for answers to some of the questions asked most frequently, along with links to related information.
Beyond this Web site, your priesthood adviser is your best and most appropriate source for help and training. Other help is available from affiliated Church public affairs councils (such as a multistake public affairs council, if you belong to a stake or area public affairs council). On occasion it may be appropriate to contact your nearest full-time Public Affairs Department office or the Church Public Affairs Department. Before doing so, you should exhaust all other local sources of assistance and should always first seek the approval of your priesthood leader.