Today marks the start of what’s called the purdah period for communications for the UK local authority where I head up marketing and public relations.
Purdah period is the time from when a local or national election is called until the election day itself.
During this period public sector communicators are even more restricted than normal in what they can do. We already have a pretty comprehensive set of rules to keep to all the time.
The purdah period exists to ensure that there is no risk of public funds being used, or seen to be used to support one particular political party or another.
In practice it means most communications activity has to cease, as it’s difficult to predict what may become a political issue during an election campaign.
Of course the business of local government continues, and some communications are required to support this, but they are limited in number and scope.
Don’t get me wrong – we won’t be sitting around twiddling our thumbs from now until Thursday, 3 May. We’ve got some really exciting projects in the pipeline that need developing before they launch.
I’m particularly excited about a project to encourage local action and participation to reduce carbon emissions in Medway. At the heart of the project is a very interesting website featuring some social networking tools and an automated email marketing engine. I really believe the combination of the two will give us a really special communications tool for this important cause. More on that later though – it’s scheduled to launch in June 2007.