Public PR's annual ‘benchmarking report' shows that 60 per cent of council PR practitioners did not attend senior management meetings last year. In 2005, the figure was 15 per cent.
The findings by the local government agency reveal major decisions are being made without consultation at a strategic level on their likely reputational impact.
Furthermore, only one in five PROs in the poll said they had a ‘great deal of influence' on how council departments communicate with each other.
Liza Greaves, founder of Public PR and author of the report, said PR practitioners' lack of influence was prompting council departments to ‘go their own way'.
She added: ‘PROs feel they are undermined by other departments. In the private sector, administration staff wouldn't intervene in their organisation's communications or branding, so why does it happen with councils?'
Local Government Association campaign manager Ben Dudley said the findings reflected the LGA's concerns about councils' reputation management.
‘Unless there is someone at the top table with a comms hat on, services start branding themselves separately, residents continue to be confused about the services, and the council's reputation does not improve,' he added.
The latest report is the eighth produced by Public PR. The agency polled comms staff at six county councils, five Londo boroughs, 13 metropolitan authorities, 18 unitary councils and one police authority.
Greaves is a former head of comms at Brighton and Hove Council.