PUBLIC SECT0R: Waltham Forest Council in communications revamp

The London Borough of Waltham Forest has appointed Seth Brook as its first head of corporate comms following a complete overhaul of the function.

Brook, currently head of environment communication at Hertfordshire County Council, is set to join Waltham Forest later this year.

The creation of the role and an enlarged corporate comms division follows a review by consultancies MPC and Paul Richards Communications, both of which were called in as part of an attempt to tackle problems with comms across the board.

The newly created function has boosted the previous 19-strong PR unit, which covered only print and PR functions, to a 23-strong team covering additional areas such as web activity, internal comms, events and marketing.

New posts of web manager and internal comms officers have been created and the function's new strategy will include greater emphasis on branding, consultation, sponsorship, a monthly staff news-letter, team briefings, intranet and periodic staff surveys.

In a report to cabinet in the summer, corporate services director Chan Badrinath highlighted a raft of problems with current comms strategy. The report says: 'There is no real synergy between the various parts of the PR unit', and that, 'the council has no cogent communications strategy, external or internal'.

Specifically referring to media relations he adds that the council needed to turn the 'rather negative current relationship into a more positive one where there is constructive criticism rather than negative feedback.'

Brook has been at Herts for eight years and has previously worked at the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Southwark and Lewisham.

He said: 'My immediate priorities will be to establish the team and its credibility within the council as well as strengthen the press function and internal communications.'

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