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by Angela Sorace, staff writer

 

Bill Brennan, spokesman for Mayor Mufi Hannemann, visited HPU’s interpersonal communication class on Nov. 17. Brennan talked about his career in public relations, including the challenges he encountered as a government press secretary.

Brennan graduated in journalism from Ohio State University and was an anchorman and executive producer at KHON-TV 2, before becoming press secretary for the mayor.

Brennan said that he has never been busier in his life since the mayor’s election, 20 months ago. Brennan defines his job as “non-stop rock-n-roll.”

“ Reporters calling on weekends, the mayor calling at 11 at night, the earthquake on Sunday morning, I’m back working,” said Brennan. “I’m not complaining. It’s a lot of energy, a lot of fun.”

“ I’m called basically to do a lot of things but the main emphasis is to field questions from reporters and get them answered,” Brennan said. “Their needs were my needs not so long ago, so I know what reporters want.”

“ The mayor is a great guy, a great boss,” added Brennan. “He works harder than I do, so he’s really demanding of his staff, but no more demanding of us than he is of himself, which makes it easy to give him a lot.

At the end of the presentation, students asked questions regarding the high points and low points of his job.

Brennan faces difficult challenges. “One was the decision to close Ala Moana Beach Park at night, which displaced a lot of homeless people. We referred to that kind of activity as illegal camping, because no one is allowed to sleep in the park, whether you have an address or not,” Brennan said.
“ The city doesn’t have a housing department. We don’t have a social service agency, but the state does. So we tried to get people to realize that the state government was better equipped to handle the homeless situation. We were trying to clean and maintain our city’s parks,” he added.

The initiative for keeping Honolulu’s parks safer and cleaner was appreciated by the public, said Brennan. “But there were also people who said, ‘Oh, the mayor kicked those people out; he is a heartless man.’”

Brennan said that the mayor is actually very compassionate, and he did visit a lot of those homeless people and families before they were moved out.

When something negative happens, Brennan explained, the city puts out a press release almost immediately to all the media.

“ You don’t want to pretend nothing has happened. You want to be pro-active, and if reporters have questions, you are there to answer.”

His advice for aspiring reporters is to have “Good writing and personality,” said Brennan. “I think there is nothing sexier than a great smile. Whether you are a man or a woman, if you smile, you look great on TV.”

“ But of course, you don’t want to be smiling when reporting on a murder story,” Brennan cautioned.“Take your work seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously.”

 
 
 

 

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