Opinion: From our Readers - Councils can have own paper AND press office

I was disappointed to read that some councils believe they have to choose between their council newspaper and a properly resourced press office (News, 25 July).

Hammersmith & Fulham's decision to employ fewer press officers and more editorial staff implies that the main role of council press offices is to deal with local newspapers and information. But this overlooks the fact that the regional, national and international media reputation of an area has a huge impact on inward investment, the tourist economy and job creation.

Local government press officers can have a real influence in this area. Selling in a coherent story of place across the media spectrum can play a vital part in transforming reputation.

Council newspapers should be self-funding through advertising revenue, so should not impact on press office budgets. In Hackney, for seven years we have run a cost-neutral fortnightly tabloid alongside a press office.

I am a passionate supporter of council newspapers, but it would be a shame to lose sight of what excellent media relations activity can achieve in its own right.

- Polly Rance, head of media and external relations, London Borough of Hackney.

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