Headlines: January 29th, 2008

A toolkit has been launched to help local authorities improve their marketing and communications and tackle the problem of people valuing their local council less as a whole than the individual services it delivers. The Improvement and Development Agency for local government has developed the ‘connecting with communities toolkit’ in partnership with Grant Riches Communication Consultants.

The toolkit looks at how effective communication can help local authorities let residents, staff and other interested parties know about their services. Research by the Local Government Association and MORI has consistently shown that the key factors in people’s satisfaction are the perceived quality of services and value for money. IDeA says both of these are affected by how well informed people feel as well as by actual delivery and levels of council tax.

It believes that good communication leads to more effective services as well as to a better reputation and stronger relationships and the online resource includes case studies, background information and tips and policy information for councils on issues including reputation management, branding, media relations and community engagement.

On reputation management it looks at the discrepancy between overall levels of satisfaction with authorities and those for particular services. It points to Ipsos MORI research showing councils can boost their reputation by undertaking 12 specified core actions well. Most of these are connected with ‘cleaner, safer, greener’ strategies in services that are most visible and matter to everyone in an area. They include adopting strongly branded cleaning operations, the speedy removal of abandoned cars and winning a ‘Green Flag’ award for at least one park. Teamed with these are core actions to tell people what the authority is doing and showing people what they are getting for their money.