Wednesday, 25 November 2009
Leading Public Sector Communications Teams
Today's guest blog comes courtesy of Ian Ratcliffe,Head of Marketing and Communications for Stockport Council, and Vice Chair of LG Communications.
Stockport Council is an Associate Member of the PRCA
Yesterday in Stockport, as Vice Chair of LG Communications, the national body working to raise the standard of communications in the public sector, it was my pleasure to host a day’s seminar involving notable speakers on the subject of Leading Public Sector Communications Teams.
It was a great day that allowed everyone to get together and discuss how communications has an even greater role to play than ever before.
We are all facing difficult times ahead so it was timely to see what we’re up to and look at the key issues concerning leaders of communications.
We had a fantastic group of speakers starting with our very own Leader of Stockport Council, Cllr Dave Goddard who made a strong case for organisational leaders valuing and resourcing their comms teams. In turn, it is essential that the communicators themselves demonstrate huge civic pride in everything they do and bring passion to their role.
Joe Simpson, Director of Politics and Partnerships at the Leadership Centre for Local Government made a fascinating presentation on the importance of storytelling and the transition from ‘communications’ to ‘conversations’ – mirrored in the transition from print to social media.
Next up we then learned some interesting lessons from Mike Greenwood, Chairman of Stockport PCT, as he described this time in the public sector. Mike is an ambassador of strong and effective brand in engendering public pride in an area and made reference to the importance of effective partnerships.
Attention was then turn to an individual level, with the focus on the skills that communicators will need in this new changed and changing economic environment. David Broome and Lucinda Barber from VMA made a thought-provoking presentation on the skills required from a comms leader, which had us all thinking about the passion we need to instil in every part of our role.
Paul Newman, Head of Comms at MediaCity:UK gave us some great leadership advice on not being sidestepped by the small issues – it’s not about where you are now, but where you want to be. Wise words! Paul also updated everyone on the progress of the wonderful Media City project at Salford.
I was very pleased to see that Andy Carter, Head of Communications at Leeds City Council was able to join us for the day. After 12 weeks of the bin men striking, he had us all intrigued by his experience of leading a crisis communications strategy – which I am glad to say has now come to an end! Exciting times and some good lessons learned.
With the perspective of someone who has been both a long-serving council leader of a major city and now a senior executive at a leading communication consultancy, a big thank you to Donald Anderson, Director at PPS, who travelled down from Edinburgh to tell us about his time as Leader of Edinburgh Council. His experience of comms during the Cowgate Fire and the G8 summit certainly gave us some perspective and showed us how the personal touches are often the mark of real leadership, and how they can make a big difference.
We closed the day with Nick Jaspan, founder of the phenomenally successful how-do.co.uk. Nick’s switch from print to online media stressed the ever growing importance of social media and networking in the comms world. On a personal level, if we do not adapt to a rapidly-changing environment, we will get left behind.
I have chosen to end my blog with thanks to your very own Director General, Francis Ingham, who I am sure will be blogging about his day with us yesterday! Francis’s presentation focused our attention firmly on the future of communications and about making the next few years about opportunities – as PR thrives on change! I also found his words on taking our own professional development seriously, as comms leaders will only be accepted on the top table if they have the skills top people expect!
So much to take in, but a great day overall. I hope that everyone who attended can take away the good advice and use it to forge a path for themselves and their teams over the next few years.
Hope to see you all at another LG Communications seminar in the near future.
Vice Chair, LG Communications
Head of Marketing and Communications at Stockport Council