This week’s conference on the role of communications in delivering
’best value’ in local government touches on two themes that affect the
whole PR industry: the role of PR as management discipline, and
The principle of ’best value’ is that councils will be more focused on
quality and on the views of the community when deciding how to provide
their services. Failure to deliver ’best value’ could lead to local
authorities being penalised by central Government. This process will
inevitably push the role of the PR team centre stage, for they will now
be responsible for ensuring not only that the council’s message is
delivered effectively to the community but that the community’s views
are heard and acted upon at all times.
Local government PR has increased dramatically in professionalism in
recent years, but relatively few authorities have senior communications
people reporting directly to the CEO. This situation will have to change
if local authorities are to be able to deliver ’best value’.
For the real significance of ’best value’ will be to put communications
at the heart of the policy making process. At the same time it will
force local government PR departments to become much more accountable
for their own performance. These are both lessons that all too many
commercial companies have yet to learn.