Writing the public sector communications book chapter

SimonGeneral10 Comments

A few months back I, probably somewhat rashly, agreed to write the public sector communications chapter in the next edition of Alison Theaker’s Public Relations Handbook publication.

Having prevaricated for a while now I’m facing up to the task with similar emotions to when I last wrote anything that was vaguely intellectually-based in my spare time – when i wrote my PR diploma dissertation.

Alison’s been kind in letting me have the text from the public sector communications chapter in the last book which she wrote. My task is to work out what should be in the chapter in 2011 and then get on and write it!

  • Context – what do we define as public sector? What is PR in the public sector? What roles does it perform?
  • History – how did we get to the current roles of PR in the public sector?
  • Politics and PR – keeping the two apart while acknowledging the intertwined nature of both
  • PR in central government – functions, strategies and delivery
  • PR in devolved and local government – functions, strategies and delivery
  • PR in government agencies – functions, strategies and delivery
  • PR in the NHS – functions, strategies and delivery
  • Proving the value of PR in the age of austerity
  • Digital PR and the blurring of departmental boundaries
  • Key current issues – reducing public expenditure, coalition government, transparency agenda, local government publications
  • Case studies – two or three detailed examples of public sector PR in action

The target word count is around 6,000 words by the end of the year.

So what do you think? The book’s aimed at PR students mainly, so have I covered a broad enough range of areas to give a grounding in public sector communications and included enough of the current issues to keep the chapter as topical as possible.

Any feedback and thoughts on case studies would be gratefully appreciated!

10 Comments on “Writing the public sector communications book chapter”

  1. Hi Simon,

    I hope things are going well at Medway?

    This sounds like a great opportunity…I know you’ve included the value of PR, but I think it may be interesting to include something on the cost of Digital PR. Many people (wrongly) think it free, because many of the tools cost nothing. However, there is a big resource implication which is often overlooked.

    Something to do with measurement or KPIs may be useful too?

    Thirdly, the Comms team at NHS Salford is doing very innovative things with social media which may make a good case study?



    1. Hi Ben – things are good thanks. Good point re value and ROI, especially on digital PR but also probably more broadly. Will check out that NHS case study

  2. Hi Simon – Freedom of information is a significant issue for public sector communicators. I work for the ICO – we regulate FOI. I recently chartered with the CIPR and my written submission was about whether FOI has changed the way we do PR. It contained a useful checklist for PR practitioners to help them work with FOI successfully. I’d be happy to send you a copy of that if it’s useful. Good luck, Sue

    1. Hi Sue – thanks for that. A good point – I should probably include FOI and the emerging transparency agenda too – and how both impact on public sector PR.

      Would be really interested to see your checklist if you don’t mind – my email is simon@simonwakeman.com – thanks!

  3. Hi Simon, I’m interested in what you’re doing – sounds a great challenge. I’m writing my MBA dissertation at the moment looking at the use of FB and Twitter by the European Commission. I’m in the middle of my literature review, which includes a broader analysis of public sector PR and social marketing and was wondering if you have any references (articles/books,etc.) that I could look up. Thanks, Mel

  4. Hi, there.
    As a PR student i am really interested to get the new edition of the book, as i’ve already read the old one. Just posting to express my support for you(viewing the blog regularly) and i am really eager to read the chapter.

    Best wishes!

    Viktor Anchev ( Liverpool John Moores University)

  5. Hi Simon,

    This is sounding very useful and I look forward to seeing it in print. We use Alison’s book in our postgraduate courses here at the University of South Australia and as my research interests lie in public sector communication, I’m always keen to see more on the topic.
    I think the context itself can be a challenge. Responsibilites of the public sector PR people at the strategic level can vary greatly amongst different departments and agencies. Discussion about the role of PR staff in advising on policy before it is implemented, and in engaging with citizens would be good. I have found them to be quite contentious areas in my research into the Australian public sector.
    I wish you luck,

  6. Pingback: Where did it go? « Simon Wakeman – public sector communications, marketing and public relations

  7. Hi Simon

    looks good, would be interested to hear about any digital comms case studies as Im about to embark on my MSc dissertation focussing on how this aspect of public sector PR is changing the way we communicate.

  8. Would be interested in contributing case studies on how we use digital to communicate to Birmingham citizens. Digital channels are becoming more and more important not just from a cost saving and efficiency perspective but our citizens want to receive information in a way that suits them. If we want to keep citizens engaged local authorities have to rise to the digital challenge.

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