EDITORIAL: Stripping back a layer of red tape

The realignment of corporate communications alongside customer relations by Liverpool City Council’s new CEO David Henshaw, and the widening of Myra Benson’s role at Birmingham City Council to once again encompass both communications and customer relations, can only be good news for the residents of both cities.

The realignment of corporate communications alongside customer

relations by Liverpool City Council’s new CEO David Henshaw, and the

widening of Myra Benson’s role at Birmingham City Council to once again

encompass both communications and customer relations, can only be good

news for the residents of both cities.



Having been bewildered, like most local authority customers for years,

by the complexity of messages being delivered by the disparate arms of

the councils, there is now some hope that when they engage in dialogue

with, say, the housing and the education departments, customers may

actually have the impression that both work for the same

organisation.



The Government’s focus on getting local authorities to create real

dialogue and channels of communication between services and their

customers is undoubtedly laudable. The problem is that among all too

many authorities the devolution of communications to disparate functions

within councils still seems to be almost endemic, resulting in the kind

of disjointed communications strategy revealed by Liverpool Council’s

internal audit.



While undoubtedly a local authority communications structure must

include strong links between any centralised PR team and the relevant

front-line departments, the increasing focus by some councils such as

Birmingham City on cross-departmental portfolios also make a nonsense of

division of marketing and communications by the function.



The alignment of customer relations alongside corporate communications

might just enable local authorities to finally create a consistent brand

experience for their all too often confused customers.



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