Hackney’s head of media and external relations Polly Rance said that her comms department was prepared for the riots issue to take hold in the media again, in particular during milestones such as ‘one year on’ or during the Olympic Games.
Rance was speaking during a panel debate at last week’s CIPR Local Public Services conference.
She added that the riots revealed the gaps in the council’s emergency comms planning: ‘With 2012 coming up anything can happen, and we absolutely need to be ready for it.’
During the same debate, London Borough of Haringey councillor Alan Strickland said his council was actively turning down ‘huge amounts’ of media enquiries regarding the riots, as the council wanted ‘positive messages going out’.
Under the heading of ‘Hard Times’, the conference saw PROs from UK councils come together to discuss comms in the age of austerity.
The accompanying CIPR Local Public Services awards saw Hackney Council crowned communicators of the year. The council also carried off four other awards after a year that saw it grappling with the riots and swingeing cuts.
Hackney was handed the communicators of the year (large team) award; along with the best campaign for ‘making the 2011 census count for Hackney’; the publication, leaflet or flyer of the year; the external newspaper or magazine prize (over 60,000 circulation) for Hackney Today; and the census communication award, jointly with Southwark Council.