At a local level, the following struck a chord, and had me hoping the techniques mentioned are all ancient history:
"In the era of monitory democracy, government media management is partly a ‘top down’ process. Governments hack in to the system of communicative abundance using various instruments, blunt and sharp. In recent years, John Howard did this to a worryingly unconventional degree. The formula of his governments’ media strategy is clearer in retrospect: build a team of tough-minded public relations people who are good at spinning everything. Get them to cultivate the image of the Prime Minister as a dedicated, hard-working, self-made man, a leader in whom everyone can recognise something of themselves, and what they want to be. Grant access of journalists to government plans in return for favourable coverage. Put senior bureaucrats on notice that they are required to report all contacts with journalists to the Prime Minister’s office. Stop leaks from retired or serving bureaucrats (Howard called it ‘democratic sabotage’, and explained that leaking is bad because it wrecks the tradition of fidelity and confidentiality upon which the provision of frank and fearless advice by civil servants to politicians depends). If necessary, get the police to turn up on doorsteps to ask questions of suspected infidels. Pass legislation to slap bans on reporting high-priority matters, detention without trial of suspects and witnesses, for instance. Pursue journalists who are troublemakers, especially those who refuse to divulge their sources. Threaten them with prosecution for libel, or contempt of court. Cultivate deaf ears for requests for disclosure of information. Keep trusted commentators at the ready, on duty at all times. Ignore calls by lawyers’ groups, NGOs and the press for new freedom of information laws, or their reform. Say often that you favour ‘freedom of communication’, but make it clear that there are strong grounds for withholding information, such as security, public order, fair play, the rights of business, the protection of the vulnerable, the needs of government."