Council comms teams urged to compete with private sector for briefs

Aberdeenshire Council's comms head has called for teams across the public sector to follow its lead after it won its first contract.

Peterhead harbour: Aberdeenshire Council won Nestrans transport partnership brief
Peterhead harbour: Aberdeenshire Council won Nestrans transport partnership brief

Kate Bond’s team successfully bid for profile-raising work for regional bodies ACSEF (Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Future) and Nestrans (North East Scotland Transport Partnership).

The council won the work from The Big Partnership and Bond told PRWeek that she hoped other public sector teams would pursue such opportunities.

‘Sometimes the public sector can do itself down, but the quality and calibre of teams is high and we should not be worried about getting knocked back. Council teams can compete on a level playing field with the private sector and I would love to see more of it happening.’

However, Bond emphasised the council would not compete for tenders in the private sector.

ACSEF is a private and public sector partnership that manages economic development, while regional partnership Nestrans covers transport.

The two-year brief includes raising the profile and level of engagement of both organisations, and increasing understanding of their purpose and achievements.

Bond acknowledged the influence of Westminster City Council, which among other things has developed WestCo, a business providing paid-for interim management of comms.

She added: ‘That model is clearly a successful one and it recognise it can use their experience to benefit other organisations.’ 

How I see it

Darren Caveney, head of comms, marketing and consultation at Walsall City Council

Given the skills and experience which sit within local authority comms teams, and the increasing pressure on their budgets, it's natural that more and more comms teams will be utilised to deliver work and income outside of their old roles.

It’s important to say that council comms teams are not chasing commercial work. That is not the intention at all. But there are multiple benefits in these teams delivering, for example, wider partnership comms activities across their counties, towns and cities. As a result, I believe we can expect to see more of this creative thinking in the future.

That said, councils looking to get involved will have to consider resource as many teams are getting smaller while also taking on extra responsibilities, such as public health.  

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