EDITORIAL: Heed the call for local govt PR staff

The results of the Local Government Association's first full survey

of council PR functions should, on the face of it, be a cause for

concern.



The key finding - that one third of local authorities in the UK are

without even one designated full-time PRO - is, at the very least

surprising.



Most authorities with no full-time PR staff are small councils with

small budgets, but they still deal with issues as pressing as those of

their larger urban counterparts. PR in these councils is often carried

out as a secondary remit of other members of staff.



The central trend of the LGA research, however, is to be welcomed:

authorities are increasingly using full-time in-house PROs and are

making resources available to facilitate this. In the last four years

there has been a 39 per cent jump in the number of councils with at

least one designated PRO. This brings the total from 200 in 1997 to 278

now.



There are growing calls for local authorities to have full-time PR

support if they are to meet government targets for efficient

communciations in local government. These calls should be heeded.

As the global economic situation worsens, there is increasing anecdotal

evidence of budget tightening in PR. Trade associations are taking

different steps to lend members a helping hand.



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