The realignment of corporate communications alongside customer
relations by Liverpool City Council’s new CEO David Henshaw, and the
widening of Myra Benson’s role at Birmingham City Council to once again
encompass both communications and customer relations, can only be good
news for the residents of both cities.
Having been bewildered, like most local authority customers for years,
by the complexity of messages being delivered by the disparate arms of
the councils, there is now some hope that when they engage in dialogue
with, say, the housing and the education departments, customers may
actually have the impression that both work for the same
The Government’s focus on getting local authorities to create real
dialogue and channels of communication between services and their
customers is undoubtedly laudable. The problem is that among all too
many authorities the devolution of communications to disparate functions
within councils still seems to be almost endemic, resulting in the kind
of disjointed communications strategy revealed by Liverpool Council’s
While undoubtedly a local authority communications structure must
include strong links between any centralised PR team and the relevant
front-line departments, the increasing focus by some councils such as
Birmingham City on cross-departmental portfolios also make a nonsense of
division of marketing and communications by the function.
The alignment of customer relations alongside corporate communications
might just enable local authorities to finally create a consistent brand
experience for their all too often confused customers.