PUBLIC SECT0R: IPR Local Government Conference - Search for crisis specialist PROs underway

Britain's most experienced council PROs are being urged to join a

newly created crisis management register.



Those who make the list will then be loaned out from their council to

assist other authorities which are tackling a crisis.



The register is part of the Crisis Communications Network, devised by

the IPR and Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE), and

launched at the IPR Local Government Conference.



The network, the first of its kind, aims to save those councils that

would normally bring in agency support thousands of pounds a year.



Robin Treacher, IPR local government group member, who developed the

scheme along with group vice-chairman Mike McCabe, said: 'This register

is not for newcomers.



It is not a training exercise. These people are those who have managed a

crisis.'



Treacher, who handled PR for the then Cleveland County Council during

the 1987 child abuse scandal, said key skills for any PRO wanting to

register include internal relations experience, an understanding of the

change of the media during a crisis, and the characteristics of national

reporters.



Initially, experienced PROs will be seconded without charge, with

councils only picking up the expenses tab. The secondment period is

expected to be around five days.



The IPR and SOLACE have gained a sponsorship deal with Zurich Municipal

and the network, due to launch in November once the register has been

completed, is also supported by the Improvement Development Agency.



The network was one of two schemes launched at the conference jointly

with SOLACE, to aid PROs.



Also launched was a mentoring scheme to help senior PROs develop their

career and gain more senior positions in local government, including CEO

level.



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