Public sector PR must be nurtured carefully

This year has seen some truly outstanding examples of public sector PR. In terms of sheer creativity and effectiveness, few private sector campaigns have matched Greenwich Council's drive to improve the eating habits of local children, most notably through its involvement in Channel 4's Jamie's School Dinners.

Equally, the response of London's emergency organisations, hospitals and transport services to the terror attacks of 7 July showed unseen levels of professionalism at a time of confusion and frantic demand for information.

But celebration of a new, golden era for public sector communicators would be somewhat premature. This week we report that internal comms experts have been drafted into two major government departments - HM Revenue and Customs and the Department for Work and Pensions - where job cuts are planned (p 6).

Both culls, part of the civil service reform programme, will involve restructures of the very comms divisions that are expected to maintain morale and articulate controversial areas of policy.

Our feature this week (p 27) examines some of the pressures that bear down on public sector PROs - not least the fact that their work is minutely scrutinised, and the sensitive issues with which they deal are often seized on by scandal-hungry hacks.

But it also reveals the calibre and determination of many of the people now employed within this area. Despite the pressures, public sector PROs often express exceptional devotion to their organisations and to their work.

Thanks to the growing potency of the state under New Labour, and the administration's passion for presentation, public sector PR has been one of the fastest-growing areas of the industry in this millennium.

Let's hope that the same politicians recognise some of the sterling achievements here. And the media, while quite rightly scrutinising, will also take account of the unique pressures these PROs are now under.

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Latest Articles

Sky adds Fever PR to its roster after splitting with Cake

Sky adds Fever PR to its roster after splitting with Cake

Pay-TV giant Sky has added Fever PR to its agency line-up for a wide-ranging brief covering products and services.

Max Clifford trial jury to continue deliberations after Easter break

Max Clifford trial jury to continue deliberations after Easter break

The jury in the trial of celebrity publicist Max Clifford has been sent home for Easter and will reconvene on Tuesday for further deliberations about its verdicts on 11 charges of indecent assault.

Home Office brings in Munro & Forster to campaign against FGM

Home Office brings in Munro & Forster to campaign against FGM

The Home Office has tasked Munro & Forster (M&F) with supporting its campaign to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) as part of a wider retained brief.

Former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers to join Warner Bros

Former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers to join Warner Bros

Warner Bros has appointed former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers as EVP for worldwide corporate communications and public affairs, effective September 2.