What is the current reputation of local government?

SimonCommunications1 Comment

I’m not afraid to admit that I am a research bore. There you go, I’ve admitted it.

While that might give you a hint about my MBTI profile, what’s more important is why research is so crucial to the business of communications – because it helps base decisions on as objective a view of possible about the current reality and the desired reality on any particular communications issue.

It’s been considered best practice for some years now for councils to track their reputations to understand how they are perceived and how these perceptions can be influenced.

While a longitudinal view of reputation for a specific council is valuable, what’s also useful is to understand the reputation of a local authority against the national perception of councils and how this is changing.

That’s why I really like the regular research that’s commissioned and published by LGinsight. Since late 2010 they have researched and tracked changing public opinion about councils, providing an extremely valuable perspective for local government communicators.

Today they publish their latest round of the research, based on fieldwork from May 2012. You can download the report here.

The message from the research reinforces the fact that council reputation is driven by three factors:

  • what the council tells people about itself
  • what others are saying about the council
  • what people see the council is doing

The research shows that

local government is not doing too badly in maintaining
its reputation. In May 2012 seven in ten (70%) Britons say they
are satisfied with the way their council is running things, and
this is the same proportion as we saw back in October 2010
when this series of polling started (69%).

The chart below shows the headlines on the most significant council reputation measures over the past two years or so.

The trends shown are interesting in the light of the PwC research I mentioned yesterday. This showed low levels of understanding among residents about why councils were planning to make savings. Contrasted against a generally (but not universally) improving reputation of local government there are some interesting debates to have.

You can read more about LGinsight research here. Thanks to Neil Wholey at Westminster City Council for the pre-publication heads-up on this one.

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