Posted tagged ‘communications’

Why working as a council PR means taking a vow of silence

September 6, 2011

Not quite this glamarous???

As regular readers of our blog will know, we love a guest post; especially one written by someone who works in a part of local government we have never worked in. Today is one of those days with a post from a self-described “local government PR” who argues that leaving the private sector and joining local government also means giving up your right to have any opinions at all. If you would like to submit a guest post please drop us a line at but not before you’ve read this:

No one told me that when I got a job in local government PR, I was renouncing my right to a voice as a resident.

Working in PR in the private sector can have huge advantages. You get to meet celebrities, go along to glamorous events and most importantly you get freebies. Free stuff, free tickets, free nights out, you even get a budget to wine and dine your favourite reporters.

But local government  PR isn’t like that. Well not my experience of it anyway. It’s a hard slog with not a freebie in sight (it’s tax payers’ money after all). It’s a daily grind of non-stop press enquiries, press releases and diplomacy. Talking people into things and talking them out of them, but watching every word that you say.


In defence of the Pravda

April 7, 2011

Are Council publications really that evil?

As regular readers will know, the WLLG team are made up of a number of individuals from all over local government, with a number of differing roles, ideas and opinions.  Often we have similar outlooks on things, and certainly find the same things baffling, but just like a healthy marriage we don’t always agree on everything.

An article we posted looking at the problems with council run newspapers is one such area.  Recently the good people of the Guardian ran a piece from us about these problems, and a mighty fine piece it was too.  It argued that the money that it drew in from other services was excessive, and that it gave lazy comms officers an easy route to say they effectively communicate with their residents.

Now, I’m not going to argue with the latter point; I’ve encountered too many people who think effective comms = press release to think this was an exaggeration.  Effective comms is so much more than that, it’s crazy how easily staff can fall into that trap.

However, a well produced Council newspaper or magazine can be a hugely positive tool as well.  It is proven to be an effective way of getting information from the Council to local people; whether they choose to read it or not is up to them, but it at least means they have the opportunity to do so.  I know I have a good read through my regular council’s publication, skimming through it to see what might catch my eye, and have found out some very useful information as a result.

There is also the issue of balance to consider.  A regular criticism of freesheets is that they provide little in the way of journalistic balance, presenting a majority of positive news and rarely if ever criticise the Council or its partners.  My question is; so what?

If you want to hear council bashing then there are plenty of places to do so, in fact most commercial local papers are full of criticism of anything and everything the council does.  Often they also contain pieces penned by opposition councillors, attacking the political leaders and their decisions whilst other contributors criticise specific services or senior officers.  When was the last time you saw an article in one of these members of the free press who said “do you know what, the council is doing a bloody good job under really difficult circumstances, we should all cut them a little slack”? (more…)

Locally social

January 25, 2011

If Bob Hoskins thinks it's good to talk, that's good enough for me

Last week I took part in the #lgovsm tweet up.  For those of you who haven’t had a look, it sees anyone interested in how social media can be better used in a local government setting all logging on to Twitter at the same time and talking about a central topic.  By adding the #lgovsm hashtag they can all then track the same conversation and respond to each other.  @loulouk started this a while ago and it’s sparked many a fantastic debate.

Social media is a topic close to my heart.  Communication is an area that has always fascinated me, ever since I realised that with a tonal change, a shrug of the shoulders or simply a….. pause, the entire meaning of words can shift and change.  Growing up in a world getting to grips with IT meant that it was inevitable that these fascinations should merge, so with venn diagrams all over the place I find myself in the enviable position of ‘doing’ some social media as part of my job.

The funny thing is, I don’t get it personally.  I don’t want to tell people meaningless snippets of information, nor do I want to always share my opinions on a given topic (understanding as I do the near permanence of anything published on the web).  But for local government, for me the possibilities seem endless. (more…)

How to reply to Out of Office

November 4, 2010

From: Localgov
Sent: 3 November 2010 11:40
To: Localgovaswell
Subject: SMT staff cascade arrangements


Thought you’d want to see these, could be useful.



From: Localgovaswell
Sent: 3 November 2010 11:42
To: Localgov
Subject: Out of Office AutoReply: SMT staff cascade arrangements


I am currently out of the office until the afternoon of Friday November 5th. During this time I will be mainly in training sessions and meetings but will have my mobile on me for emergencies.

I will deal with all e-mails upon my return.


From: Localgov
Sent: 3 November 2010 11:45
To: Localgovaswell
Subject: Out of Office AutoReply: SMT staff cascade arrangements


Gosh darn part time worker, wasting my council tax by sitting in training sessions learning lord only knows what about some random and unuseful thing such as health and safety so you you can stop me walking the streets of my own free will or having a picnic on a nice grass verge for fear of a sprinkler going off and my clothes getting wet so I sue you and the rest of your forsaken kind for £1m plus emotional damages, it’s political correctness gone mad I tell you and before long I won’t be able to tuck my kids in to bed at night without being accused of beating them and seeing the Child Protection ninjas swooping in to arrest me and lock me in a local version of Guantanamo Bay, well I won’t have it, do you hear me, I’m going to stand up for my rights as a citizen of this proud country and find out exactly how to demand that I be treated as the upstanding human being that I am.

Is there a training course for that?


e-low, e-low, e-low

October 26, 2010



Just don't e-mail us about anything...


For most people, contacting the police is a simple thing.  If you have an emergency it’s 999, if not you ring your local police station and leave a message which then gets deleted.  Simples.

Not so if you work for local government.  Today I got an e-mail from our ICT team telling me that my special e-mail account will be set up soon.  Upon further investigation I discovered that this was a special e-mail account specifically to talk to the Met police.

Apparently colleagues have been having all of their e-mails to their police based counterparts blocked because – wait for it – they get sent via the internet.  This means they are not secure, and that only those sent through a special type of e-mail account will get through to them.

So; if I want to e-mail anyone else in the world I simply fire up Outlook, write an e-mail and send it.  If, however, I want to e-mail the Met police I have to close down Outlook, log off that entire profile (closing down everything else I’m working on at the time), log on under a new, ‘special’ profile, fire up Outlook again, write it and send it.  Unless I get an instant response I’ll then have to close it all down again, load up my normal profile, get back to work for a bit and repeat the procedure later on to see if I’ve got a reply.

Am I alone in thinking this is ridiculous? (more…)