FIANNA Fáil's advisers and press officers have been given a pep talk about "upping their game" and "getting the Fianna Fáil message out there" by transport minister Noel Dempsey, the Sunday Tribune has learned.
The half-hour meeting took place the week before last and the advisers were urged to make sure the Fianna Fáil – and not just the government – message was being heard.
The meeting was told that while the government tended to be well represented on RTE programmes such as The Frontline and Prime Time, it was also important for government figures to be on the likes of TV3's Tonight with Vincent Browne and Ireland AM, which have strong viewership figures and which can be strongly critical of the government at times.
The advisers were told it was vital that backbenchers were supplied with information required to make the government case and that the message that the economy had turned the corner be emphasised, along with pointing out the solid achievements of the Celtic Tiger years.
Reacting quickly with rebuttals to criticisms of the government was also stressed.
Dempsey – who has always played a key political role in Fianna Fáil – also highlighted how the likes of the Greens, Fine Gael and Labour were good at selling their respective party names and it was important for them to sell not just the government but also Fianna Fáil.
The mood at the meeting was described as convivial. "It wasn't at all fractious. He [Dempsey] was stressing that we're all part of a team. It was more of a pep talk and not at all confrontational."
The meeting coincides with a notable move by Taoiseach Brian Cowen to be more visible and available for media opportunities.
Cowen has made a number of significant speeches – including one yesterday on jobs – in recent weeks, along with a series of media engagements.
The change in approach is privately welcomed by Fianna Fáil TDs who believe the Taoiseach has performed well in recent weeks.