...but lobbying is still in the council mix

Lobbying is expected to be a growth area for councils, despite Labour and Conservative plans to curb such activities by other public sector bodies.

Charlie Vavasour: advising on media response to PR
Charlie Vavasour: advising on media response to PR

In last week's Budget, Labour set out plans to 'limit the use of lobbying and public relations consultants by arm's length bodies'. Tory leader David Cameron has also made similar proclamations.

But Camden Council corporate comms manager Ashley Wilcox said: 'There will be a lot more lobbying after the election. It is seen as an important function and it is cost-effective. There are a lot of issues around funding and transport that councils are lobbying about.'

Meanwhile, agencies are increasingly briefing public sector clients on dealing with the media reaction to them using external PR support.

Quantum PR managing director Charlie Vavasour said: 'It's certainly one of the things we talk to clients about when we are appointed. It is best discussed in terms of value for money.'

MS&L head of corporate Paul Maguire added: 'It is easy to see them not taking a risk and seeing it as a safer option to use resources internally. That is a challenge, but we have to focus on outcomes and success.'

In January, NHS Health Scotland called off a pitch for a PR and lobbying firm after being heavily criticised in the media.

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