Richmond switches media focus to the web

The London Borough of Richmond upon Thames is overhauling how it delivers news with a shift away from press releases towards a web-based offering.

The move is part of recommendations made at the first meeting of the council’s communications review group.

This group, set up by Westminster City Council, was drafted in four months ago on a year-long contract to overhaul Richmond’s communications (PRWeek, 25 April).

The panel’s group includes comms chiefs from a variety of local organisations, such as the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, the Rugby Football Union and The Royal Parks.

Under the plan, the council hopes to bring together the council’s e-government and web team in an attempt to directly target the 79 per cent of local households connected to the internet through the web, rather than just through traditional media.

Westminster City Council comms head Alex Aiken said: ‘This means that communications will be funnelled through the web. It is a developing agenda to use the web as the shop front for the council’s communications.’

Richmond is also set to merge its disparate communications operations. Currently a five-strong press office liases with up to 10 staff with communications roles, dispersed around the council in three different buildings.

He said: ‘We are going through department by department and asking: “Is this making a difference?” If it is not, we should stop it and do something else.’

The council is also to tackle concerns that communication is not taken seriously among staff by operating a new intranet as part of a drive to ‘inform and enthuse’ staff.

Meanwhile, Westminster’s comms team is to target businesses as part of a new campaign surrounding the congestion charge. The council is to survey businesses to see the extent of any loss of revenue caused by the charge.

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