The results of the Local Government Association's first full survey
of council PR functions should, on the face of it, be a cause for
The key finding - that one third of local authorities in the UK are
without even one designated full-time PRO - is, at the very least
Most authorities with no full-time PR staff are small councils with
small budgets, but they still deal with issues as pressing as those of
their larger urban counterparts. PR in these councils is often carried
out as a secondary remit of other members of staff.
The central trend of the LGA research, however, is to be welcomed:
authorities are increasingly using full-time in-house PROs and are
making resources available to facilitate this. In the last four years
there has been a 39 per cent jump in the number of councils with at
least one designated PRO. This brings the total from 200 in 1997 to 278
There are growing calls for local authorities to have full-time PR
support if they are to meet government targets for efficient
communciations in local government. These calls should be heeded.
As the global economic situation worsens, there is increasing anecdotal
evidence of budget tightening in PR. Trade associations are taking
different steps to lend members a helping hand.