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Senate Communication Director works as media resource


CHARLESTON, W.VA. — For the media, legislative session is known to be a hectic time at the statehouse. Reporters mill around, waiting to get a statement from a desired senator amidst a flurry of tape recorders and microphones, while crowds of people gather around the rotunda and in the meeting rooms. What’s the method to all of this madness?

Jacque Bland 2

Jacque Bland: the face behind the frenzy.

As the Director of Communications for Senate President William P. Cole (R-Mercer), Bland oversees all Senate media relations and serves as a voice for senators to speak to their constituents.

“During session, I am coordinating with reporters who want to meet with the senate president. Most of my responsibility is to him, to make sure reporters get time with him. But I help other senators, as well. I am available to all of them,” said Bland.

Once the 60-day session concludes in March, Bland’s focus shifts from arranging interviews to juggling a variety of media-related tasks, in addition to writing all press releases.

“Usually when we’re not in session, I do a lot of op-ed work with the senators. They still want to make sure they have something in front of their constituents. Senators will come to me with an idea they have and we will work on it together,” said Bland. “When we have interim meetings, I attend those and I also do the communications work for the Joint Select Committee on Tax Reform.”

Bland believes her background in journalism as managing editor at The State Journal and features editor at The Washington Examiner arms her with not just the skills to handle her current position, but a unique perspective on how to approach media relations. Bland said she contacts reporters to alert them to upcoming topics in a session, knowing it will smooth the lines of communication.

“I think I work more this way because of the time I’ve spent in newsrooms. I trust reporters and editors to do their jobs and know what they want to cover,” said Bland. “I’m here to help. I love when people call me and say ‘I have an idea, can I bounce some big pictures off of you?’”

If Bland is a success in her role as Senate Director of Communications, a key contributing factor is her knowledge of what it’s like to be part of the media. An openness to discuss any issues with communication and a self-described open-door policy makes Bland feel that she is approachable to members of the media or anyone who may want to voice their concerns.

“I know what it’s like to worry you’re not going to have enough material to fill the space you have. I always say if there’s something someone needs that I’m not giving them, tell me. If I’m not providing you with something, let me know, said Bland. “I think when they understand I am here to help them, it makes things go well for everybody.”

Despite her confident approach, Bland does feel there are ways to improve media relations for all involved. At the top of her wish list? The ability to record and archive audio streams for sessions or committee meetings. Going a step further, Bland said the true pinnacle of improvement would be the creation of actual transcripts of committee meetings.

Technological advancements continue to take place at the Capitol and will likely continue to be a work in progress over the next couple of years. Sessions are currently available for streaming and Bland hopes in the future her wish will become reality.

“If there were transcripts available or more information was available more quickly, it would be helpful for people that are on a deadline. There’s only one of me and if there’s four committee meetings going on at one time, I would have a hard time being able to pop in on all of them,” said Bland.

Once the yearly session is over and its accompanying maelstrom of activity settles, Bland’s job is far from over. Working to ensure that senators and reporters alike get their needs met year-round, Bland welcomes any and all questions as she stays committed to her role. With the ever-changing nature of Capitol news, many may find it helpful to know Bland is available as a resource.

If reporters have a suggestion or an idea to talk through, Bland said she is generally never hard to find and can be easily reached through phone or email. To contact Bland, call 681-313-9271 or email [email protected].






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