Communications and the Media
Communications & the Media
Although leaders and portfolio holders will promote corporate council policy and political parties may have communications strategies, you will be expected to generate your own personal publicity and communications with constituents.
Who to communicate with:
- The public
- Other councillors
- Council managers and staff
- Local MSs and MPs
- Your political party and group if you have one
- Local organisations and businesses
- The media
- Organisations working collaboratively with your council
- Central government and regional and national bodies in Wales.
How to communicate:
- Social media
- Newsletters and bulletins
- Blogs and vlogs
- Local media, newspapers, radio and television.
A key feature of your communicating and influencing role is the impact that you have in the local media. There is a generally held assumption that local government gets a ‘bad press’, but evidence suggests that local media are willing to present local government in a positive light, if handled in the right way.
Your council will have protocols governing the issuing of press releases and speaking to the local media, if you are not sure whether your council has such procedures you should check before taking any action. Local press, television and radio journalists want a story to cover. These stories may often be the main source of information on local government for both interested and disengaged citizens and you will need to use your communication and influencing skills to ensure that a balanced and accurate account is given to the media in the first instance.
Digital media and social networking have a huge potential for contributing to open and transparent government, participation and collaboration. These are helpful tools for authorities and members to engage with the community. Statistics show Twitter and Facebook are still the communication channels of choice for older people although younger people are more likely to use TikTok and Instagram. Digital engagement helps councillors speak directly with communities and gauge opinions quickly. However, there is a temptation for local councillors and politicians generally to use social media as a one-way channel of communication, tending to broadcast ideas and actions rather than listening and engaging with communities and individuals. Social media is an excellent platform for asking questions and getting feedback from individuals and communities.
Some councillors have also encountered some of the pitfalls associated with using digital media. You need to remember that if you can be identified as a councillor, even when “off duty” what you say will be open to very wide (potentially global) scrutiny and you will need to apply the usual rules governing communication and conduct.
For more information
Guidance on the use of social media can be found here.