EDITORIAL: An online lesson for council PROs

The tug of war that dominated the relationship between IT and PR departments in the private sector a couple of years ago is now beginning to take on a new lease of life in the public sector as Worcester council PR chief Kevin Galloway calls on local government PROs to take control of the electronic presentation of council websites.

The tug of war that dominated the relationship between IT and PR departments in the private sector a couple of years ago is now beginning to take on a new lease of life in the public sector as Worcester council PR chief Kevin Galloway calls on local government PROs to take control of the electronic presentation of council websites.

The problem is that for newcomers the medium is seductive yet seemingly unfathomable; and the impulse is to surrender control to IT departments in a rush simply to create a presence online.

The internet is still littered with embarrassing early experiments by the private sector which amount to little more than barely interactive electronic company brochures - and many have paid the price in terms of diminished brand credibility in this dynamic environment.

While the practicality of Blair's enthusiasm for the creation of an online democracy has been called into question, he has hit the nail on the head with his plans for electronic delivery of public services. The ability to undertake transactions (even if just paying parking fines) could develop a whole new relationship between local authorities and their customers.

There is enormous potential to create dialogue and facilitate consultation - but this potential will never be truly tapped if it continues to be seen as a technical exercise of presentation.

Local authorities need to decide whether they are simply trying to put up a token website or creating what amounts to a democratic revolution.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.