The City of Syracuse seeks to provide the highest quality services to residents by listening and communicating with the public in helpful and transparent ways. The news media play an important role as public information partners for residents and city government. As such, city government will coordinate with members of the press to respond to media inquiries to the best of our ability providing timely and complete information on non-confidential matters.
The City policy establishes guidelines for how non-elected City personnel and public officers should engage with members of recognized news media organizations. The intended purpose of establishing a City media relations policy is to ensure a coordinated response with the Office of Communications which is designated by the Mayor to share public information on behalf of the City.
This policy governs City department heads, department-level public information officers (PIOs), members of boards, commissions, and committees and other City employees. This policy does not extend to the Office of the Auditor, Citizens Review Board, Clerk or the Common Council.
Changes to Policy
This Policy may be updated from time to time and amended at the discretion of the Communications Director.
- As designated by the Mayor, the Office of Communications and its designees, under the direction of the Chief Policy Officer, serves as the official spokespersons for the City’s media relations program.
- The Office of Communications and its designees will work with City Staff to coordinate responses to media inquiries.
- Media inquiries are to be received by the Office of Communications. When City staff receive a media inquiry directly, City staff should notify the Office of Communications or their department's designated Public Information Officer as soon as possible of any media interactions - including, the nature of any conversation or inquiry, the identity of the media outlet, the contact, and relevant background information.
- The Director of Communications may work with City Staff to develop standing media response protocols to help ensure timely responses.
- In the event of a public safety incident or emergency, the Police Department, the Fire Department, the Department of Public Works, the Water Department and any other relevant department will coordinate with the Chief Policy Officer or senior most member of Office of Communications to manage inquires made by the media in the field, coordinate information from the City to the public, and coordinate information to the Syracuse Common Council.
The Office of Communications designates Public Information Officers as primary authorized media relations officers for the City. Public Information Officers may be members of the Communications Office, assigned to portfolios of departments, or embedded within a specific department.
Often, the media will need to interview a “spokesperson.” A spokesperson is someone engaged or elected to speak on behalf of the City. These spokespersons may serve as individuals for on-camera interviews or be quoted in public statements to demonstrate authenticity in the reporting of public information.
As needed, the Chief Policy Officer and Director of Communications are authorized as “spokespersons” to speak on behalf of the City as well as serve as back-up media relations officers. The commissioner or director of each department is also designated as primary spokespersons for departments, divisions or bureaus.
Media must submit all media inquiries via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We ask that media allow a reasonable amount of time for responding, when possible. To expedite responses, media inquiries should include the following information:
- Name of Reporter
- Media outlet being represented
- Inquiry request: an interview on camera, an interview via virtual meeting, an audio interview, a response to questions, clarification on events and policies
- For interviews, it is very helpful to provide interview questions and nature of interview
- We encourage specific inquiries. For example:
- Inquiry Example A: What can you tell us about police reform?
- Inquiry Example B: What is the progress of the Mayor's Police Reform Executive Order No.2 and how does surveillance technology improve public safety?
- Inquiry Example A is broad and may require several emails and correspondence to identify the appropriate subject to interview. Inquiry example B identifies a specific angle which allows a PIO to quickly identify a subject and help schedule a response or interview.
- Email and email signature should include contact information for reporter, show affiliation to news media outlet, and reinforce credibility
Mainstream media inquiries are sometimes made directly to city employees in the field of work. If this occurs, inquiries should be directed to the department spokesperson who must coordinate with the Office of Communications.
All press releases and public messages from city government should be published by a Public Information Officer, approved by the Office of Communications or Mayor's Office, and archived for record. This excludes public meeting notices and legal advertisements which maintain a separate records requirement under NYS Records Law.
- Positive media solicitation is an integral element of the City's communications program. The City communications program includes media releases and advisories regarding ceremonies, special accomplishments, events and activities, programs, and plans to promote the municipality. City staff is encouraged to submit information that exhibit the City, its work, or the community.
- City press releases should be archived for a minimum of three years in digital copy and maintained on a medium freely available to the public such as on the city public website.
The policies of the City of Syracuse do not allow for public comments and constrain the availability of information during an active investigation. These policies preserve the integrity of the investigation and of the individuals involved in the investigation. The role of determining guilt, innocence, or cause, should not be affected by parties outside of appropriate investigation or legal channels. This also violates the right to due process and creates liability for the City of Syracuse.
Requesting Information by Freedom of Information Request
Not all information is available via a media request. If the information being requested is not public information, the media inquiring should be directed to submit a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request. FOIL inquiries should be directed to the Office of the Corporation Counsel at: By email: email@example.com, or by mail at 233 E. Washington St., 300 City Hall, Syracuse, NY 13202 or online via the city’s website.
Sr. Public Information Officer: Brooke V. Schneider
Infrastructure Public Information Officer: Kelly Montague
Fire Public Information Officer: Capt. Matthew Craner
Parks Public Information Officer: Anne Downes
Police Public Information Officer(s): Lt. Malinowski and Kieran Coffey
- 2023.05.01 - Clarifying language related to submitting questions as part of a media inquiry in "Procedure" section.
- 2023.05.01 - Updating name of Syracuse Fire Department PIO designee in "Reference" section.