Councils warned of image problem

Boosting the reputation of local government is a PR challenge akin to that faced by the US Army after the Vietnam War, delegates were told at last week’s CIPR conference.

Local Government Association director of strategy Oona Muirhead said PROs should not underestimate the difficulty of overhauling the image of local authorities.

Despite 100 local authorities expressing interest in the LGA's Reputation Project launched at its own annual conference in July, less than half have committed to its recommendations. More must sign up to make it effective, Muirhead warned.

The project will span five to ten years and outlines the link between effective communications and improving a council's Comprehensive Performance Assessment ratings.

It recommends comms initiatives to which the LGA wants all councils to sign up, such as A-Z guides of council services for all households.
The project is designed to address the fact that only five per cent of the population are deemed sufficiently aware of what their council does. 'And four per cent of the population actually works for a council,' explained Muirhead.

'The more people know about us [their council] the more they like us,' she added.

Council staff have also been identified as one of the main targets for the Reputation Project, with one in three reporting negative stories about his or her employer to friends and family members.

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