The chairman of the Anne Arundel County Council and media spokesmen for the state comptroller and the Baltimore district office of the Internal Revenue Service plan to moonlight teaching business executives how to deal with the media.
County Council Chairman David G. Boschert, IRS spokesman Domenic LaPonzina and comptroller spokesman Marvin Bond have been hired by Image Dynamics Inc., an advertising and public relations agency, to teach sessions costing at least $4,000, said Phyllis Brotman, president of the Baltimore agency.
Image Dynamics mailed notices to about 1,500 executives in Maryland, Northern Virginia and Pennsylvania last week advertising the tutorials, she said.
A number of executives have responded, but none has signed a contract, Mrs. Brotman said.
The sessions are designed to teach executives how to respond to media inquiries, she said. Mr. Bond, Mr. LaPonzina and Mr. Boschert will tutor executives in individual meetings, each lasting at least four hours.
Mr. LaPonzina, an IRS spokesman for 19 years, said executives will be taught how to react in various interview situations and how to communicate more effectively.
For an additional fee, they can include a one-day seminar that includes advice on making speeches, Mrs. Brotman said.
"An organization must understand the importance of solid media relations expertise in furthering its goals," Mrs. Brotman said. "Through this program, we will help executives make the most of opportunities for media coverage."
Many executives try to avoid reporters by not returning phone calls or refusing to answer questions. She said the executives will be trained in how to respond to media inquiries as quickly and forthrightly as possible.
Mr. Bond said he, Mr. LaPonzina and Mr. Boschert came up with the idea for the sessions and approached Mrs. Brotman with their plan.
Neither the three men nor Mrs. Brotman would say how much they are being paid by the agency.
Mr. Boschert said he did not need permission to conduct the sessions but that he would note any contact with corporate officials who do business with Anne Arundel County on the annual financial-disclosure forms he files with the state.
Mr. Boschert, who is primarily a self-employed media consultant, was once a vice president for public relations and business development at Odenton Federal Savings & Loan. He was appointed to the County Council in 1984 and elected chairman in December.
An officer in the Marine Corps Reserves, he was a spokesman for the Marines during Operation Desert Storm and has trained Marine officers on how to handle press inquiries.
Mr. Bond and Mr. LaPonzina said they received permission from their supervisors before committing themselves to the project.
Both said they were granted permission because the consulting does not concern tax preparation and that they plan to devote about three weeks of vacation time to conduct the seminars.
Mr. Bond, who has worked in the comptroller's office for more than 20 years, said he saw the outside work as a way to supplement his salary of about $58,000.
Mr. LaPonzina is paid $60,000 a year by the IRS. Mr. Boschert earns about $28,000.