Luke Blair: LGA needs a politically sensitive comms head

I'm going to break one of my rules for the column this month and write specifically about a client, the Local Government Association.

Luke Blair: The LGA is also an intensely political environment
Luke Blair: The LGA is also an intensely political environment

I am working there as a part time secondee at the moment, doing the job of interim director of comms and recruiting a permanent successor at the same time.

I have done this kind of job a few times now. For many organisations it makes sense to get in an interim if for example there has been a restructuring, or there is transition going on, or as in the case of the LGA there has been both a restructuring and the people at the top have also changed.

Our new chair (in post since the summer) and chief executive (arrival imminent) will, naturally, want to make their own choice about such a key role and since the last person in the communications post is now off to become a chief executive of a local authority, there is the perfect opportunity to re-assess, find the right person for the future, and in the meantime keep the show on the road.

So who are we looking for? Well clearly this has got to be a pretty big hitter. This is a sizeable organisation with a suitably sized communications function. The comms team run a big annual conference, manage a host of extremely well used websites and online tools, have a crowded public affairs and policy programme, and are constantly busy in the media – locals, trades and nationals.

It is a very busy time in local government too, as it is throughout the public sector. Localism and the transfer of powers downwards is having a radical effect on how local authorities fulfil their roles, how they are structured, and who they work with.

And the LGA is also an intensely political environment. Policies are not developed through discussion by one, two or three main parties – but by four, since councillors who have been elected to authorities as Independent candidates are also part of the democratic mandate.  So political sensitivities and working constructively with all four of those parties is also a key requirement. 

So we need someone who is used to speaking to the media, at public conferences, in Board meetings, who can be both strategic and tactical, and who knows how to manage teams and senior executives. 

They need to know a fair bit about local government (though are not necessarily from the sector) and they definitely need to have faultless skills in terms of prioritisation, organisation, drafting and budgeting.

Luke Blair is a director at the London Communications Agency

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