House of Lords probes impact of comms spend

The House of Lords is reviewing the value of its comms activities after the collapse of coalition efforts to modernise the Second Chamber.

Institution: Plans to reform the House of Lords collapsed in August
Institution: Plans to reform the House of Lords collapsed in August

The House has issued an RFP for a PR agency to help it evaluate how beneficial big-money comms and outreach campaigns have proved.

The news comes after PRWeek revealed in July that the budget for the House of Lords information office has risen to £820,000 over the current financial year – while overall departmental spend has been cut by a quarter since 2007 across Whitehall.

House of Lords director of public information Benet Hiscock told PRWeek: ‘There is no aspiration to spend more or to reduce spending specifically, but we want to make sure we’re having the impact we’re looking for.’

Hiscock pointed to the ‘age of austerity’ as being a spur for this new pitch process.

‘We’re trying to make sure we’re carrying out tactical activities that agree with our strategic objective and that we’re investing in the most effective methods of comms.’

He added that the findings of the evaluation project would be put before the House of Lords management board to ‘explain the impact our work is having’.

The Lords, which has a 12-strong comms team, recently spent £40,713 on an audience research project.

Elements of the brief include a review of the external comms strategy and KPIs, as well as the ‘individual areas of tactical activity, their objectives, audience and existing data’.

The chosen agency will also be called on to identify ‘measurable indicators’ so that the Lords can continue to monitor the impact of each tactical activity.

The news comes after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was forced to ditch plans to reform the Lords in August after failing to gain support for the proposals among Conservative MPs.

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