PUBLIC SECT0R: Northants council to boost PR team

Northamptonshire County Council is to centralise its PR and

marketing activity in a bid to boost interest in local politics.



The centralisation follows a four-month review by head of communications

Peter Heaton and will see the existing central comms team of four

supplemented by nine new posts.



Heaton said: 'We have decided that our use of resources could be

improved by pulling things together. This will create savings from

staffing, and also by virtue of being co-ordinated and more

professional.'



'The important thing is rather than having a PR person for this and

that, we will have specialists in things such as media relations and

internal comms working across the board,' he added.



The council previously had communications professionals spread across

its business in areas such as social services and education. Among them

were three in-house graphic design teams.



The jobs that will replace them at the centre are three media relations

officers, a senior marketing communications officer, four marketing

communications officers and an internal communications officer.



The changes will mean a £5,000 reduction in salary costs and are

expected to lead to overall savings of five per cent on the £3m

annual communications budget.



Heaton said the move was directed at creating a single voice for the

council that would help build a brand related to the services it

provides. In the past, he said, while council services have been

popular, the council itself has not been.



'Councils do not brand services as belonging to them enough. As part of

the drive to get more people interested in local affairs we have to say

what councils do more clearly,' he said.



The centralisation strategy is one Heaton deployed in a previous role at

Milton Keynes and it has also been deployed recently by some London

boroughs, he said.



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