Public sector internal comms staff face 'real challenge' due to cut budgets

The challenge facing internal comms professionals in the public sector as budgets are slashed is like trying to 'square a circle', according to the Institute of Internal Communication chief executive.

PRWeek podcast: State of the Sector 2011 report
PRWeek podcast: State of the Sector 2011 report

In this week’s PRWeek podcast, IIC chief executive Steve Doswell and director of internal comms consultancy Gatehouse Simon Wright explained that internal comms staff in public sector bodies were being called on to re-engage with employees using much lower budgets than were previously available.

Doswell said: ‘There’s a contradiction between the fact that internal communicators are looking to re-engage their employees, and yet they’re being given ever smaller and in some cases no budgets to do so. That’s like trying to square a circle – it’s a real challenge.’

They were discussing the State of the Sector 2011 survey findings, which revealed that more than 60% of public sector organisations have either no dedicated internal comms budget, or one that is very restricted.

Doswell added that there was increasing emphasis on face-to-face communication. ‘Print is suffering heavily as a channel,’ he said, pointing to the growth of digital and the effects of the recession on the public sector as causes.

Wright agreed that engagement among staff in the public sector was seen as the number one priority ‘by quite a margin’, despite the slashed budgets.

‘How are they going to be able to engage people without having all the tools they need?’ said Wright, adding that one option was increased emphasis on face-to-face communication over the print medium.

Wright said the future of the industry relied on comms staff up-skilling: ‘Teams need to have the skills and they need to do more with what they’ve got.’

To watch the podcast click here

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