Richard Stokoe on local government public relations

SimonGeneral3 Comments

Spotted an interesting piece by Richard Stokoe, Head of News at the Local Government Association, about the role of public relations in local government (article online here).

The general feeling in the article is that local government public relations (or, more accurately, media relations) is predominantly defensive and reactive, focussed on defending reputation.

One of the real challenges I have in local government public relations is rooting out the great story angles that exist in the council – there are probably hundreds of such stories around the organisation, but many of the practitioners responsible for them don’t realise they’re doing something newsworthy – they just see that they’re doing their jobs.

Public relations practitioners working in local government don’t just need to be adept media handlers or skilled wordsmiths, they need really strong interpersonal skills to build productive working relationships with local government officers. Without these relationships it’s virtually impossible to hunt down those great story angles that can help improve the council’s reputation.

3 Comments on “Richard Stokoe on local government public relations”

  1. Chris Norton

    Interesting post, I have worked in house for a public sector organisation and I know how hard it can be to source a positive story.

    Negative issues and stories seem to raise their ugly heads much more often but it’s true that there are thousands of council workers across this country going above and beyond their roles everyday.

  2. Simon

    The fact that negative stories typically make better news copy than positive ones is probably a factor too – so once a council PRO has identified a positive story in their organisation, the challenge is then to be able to pitch it in a way that’s of news value to a media organisation.

    The fact it’s a nice positive council story isn’t enough – there needs to be a news angle too.

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