Matt Tee sets out vision for public comms at LG Communications conference

The permanent secretary for government comms has come up with a blueprint for greater collaboration between central and local government PR teams.

Matt Tee: plans for public comms
Matt Tee: plans for public comms

Matt Tee revealed his plans in a presentation to local government communicators at the LG Communications conference in Sheffield last week.

LG Communications chair David Holdstock said: ‘Tee suggested secondment opportunities between local and central government would help to share best practice.’ Tee is also said to have floated the idea of joint training and development programmes for central and local government communicators.

The conference centred on the issue of improving the standard of communications in local councils.

Senior figures from LG Communications expressed the view that the key challenge for local government communications was to und­erstand the overall drop in satisfaction levels, despite an inc­rease in comms activity.

‘The evidence of the past year is that we are potentially in the middle of a crisis of confidence in not only local government but public services in general. A gathering mood of public services being wasteful, greedy and uncaring is
being formed,’ read an LG Communications report un­veiled at the event.

According to the Municipal Journal, satisfaction has fallen from 53 per cent in 2006 to 45 per cent in 2008.

LG Communications held its annual reputation awards at the conference, with major prize-winners including the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, which won two gold awards for value for money and reputation.

Westminster City Council won two gold awards for media relations and internal comms. Nottingham City Council won gold for best publication. Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council won gold for environmental comms, and Hull City Council won gold for digital media.

Norfolk County Council won the Place Leadership award, Surrey County Council won community reassurance, and Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council won improving health.

Meanwhile, LG Communications revealed further results from its audit into controversial council publications.

Twenty-seven per cent of authorities said their magazine/newspaper had a similar look and tone to a quality tabloid. The most common topic  in council publications is recycling, with 74 per cent, followed by crime and antisocial behaviour at 53 per cent.

How I see it

David Holdstock
Head of corporate comms at the London Borough of Hillingdon, and chairman of LG Communications

Matt Tee offered an honest and incisive analysis of the state of government communications to the LG Communications conference.

He offered the prospect of a new partnership between central and local government communicators based on practical joint action on campaigns, secondments and improved information sharing.

We will back this new approach and intend to organise a summit for government communicators soon. Together we can put a stronger case for public services and improve skills.

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