GUEST POST: What drives the reputation of councils?

A major piece of benchmarking research has been launched in council, combined authority and fire comms. CIPR vice chair and experienced public sector communicator Mandy Pearse explains how yo can help.

One thing in life is guaranteed – everyone always has an opinion on their local council. 

What is interesting is what shapes that opinion and ultimately the reputation of the council. We assume that the Council’s communications should play a significant role, but equally the actions of the local politicians, the service delivery and the customer service may all impact.

When we start looking for hard evidence on what are the most influential factors it becomes more murky. 

Work has showed the importance of internal communications so that employees who are engaged in their workplace are more likely to speak highly of the organisation unprompted. I think of this advocacy as the pub test where someone is asked down the pub what they do for a living  and they will actually say they work for the Council and speak up for it.

Back in the days when we used to undertake the three-yearly BVPI survey we had some indicators such as resident satisfaction, value for money, how well informed and service satisfaction which we could compare across all authorities. The elements influencing that satisfaction score were how well informed people felt and their satisfaction with services such as refuse collection, recycling and green spaces.

But in our current digital but polarised society how much of this holds true? In one sense we can track our impact digitally more accurately than ever in terms of views, likes, shares, engagement, sentiment and links to action. 

We definitely see some stellar numbers on platforms like TikTok and some brilliant creative campaigns. But how much of that affects the reputation of the Council with the residents, tax payers, service users, partners and funders? How do you measure your reputation?

I’m keen to explore this and I’m starting with a major benchmarking survey. It’s open to any Head of Comms at a Council, combined authority or fire authority and all those who take part will get a summary of the findings.

You can complete the survey

It will take 20 minutes so have a break with a cuppa while you fill it in.

Mandy Pearse is director at Seashell Communications and CIPR Vice-President.

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