May proved to be a busy month for public sector communicators. Local government elections at the start of the month saw many councils change political control. For those that did re-evaluation of priorities, updates to strategies and changes to campaigns are likely.
The additional publicity restrictions generated by the general election on 8 June 2017 meant many public sector organisations needed to change long-standing campaign plans. For local government communicators ensuring that voters were registered and arrangements in place for counts have been an additional pressure.
Following the general election in June 2017, it is inevitable that whichever party forms the government that change for the public sector will follow. We at the CIPR LPS group will be here to support public sector communicators by holding events, producing guides and best practice advice. We will be working with the CIPR’s regional and other sectoral groups as well as other bodies.
I am honoured to have been elected Chair for 2017-2018 and to have such a brilliant new committee. I am looking forward to the challenges ahead.
Chair of the CIPR’s Local Public Services Group
Head of Public and Partner Relations Plymouth City Council
More about the contributors to the CPD and activity programme promoted or run by the CIPR Local Public Services Group
Highlights from the Chair’s Report 2016-2017
I would like to start by thanking the committee for their hard work and commitment. Especially the executive team: Mandy, Phil, Meg and Abha for all their support, not just to me but to the sector and our members. We have had a number of committee members stand down. A huge thanks to Lynda Fothergill, Hilary Allison, Martin Gavin, Steve Park and Rob Webb for being part of the group and for your contribution across the years. Best of luck to all of you and we are pleased that you will be remaining friends of the group and ongoing supporters.
Following the success of our report, ‘Influence for Impact’ the previous year- this year was about looking at what was needed in terms of training and CPD needs of members, building up connections and contacts to grow the committee of the future and some vital work that had to be completed for administration and finance aspects.
Thanks to the hard work and perseverance of our treasurer, we were able to sort out a long standing VAT issue that has now allowed us to be in sync with the CIPR HQ accounting model and save a significant amount of money every year for the LPS. We also supplied to the CIPR a budgeted planner in October 2016, detailing our plans for the future and the costs associated. We tried to make our activity cost neutral, and by proposing to hold events with other groups and organisations this should be possible. We also committed to making an impact by ensuring local public services had more of a profile across skills guides and case studies which the CIPR use. This work is ongoing.
In addition to ongoing CPD development through our digital offerings, we have looked at developing more webinars, skills guides, blogs and thought pieces with corresponding resources to support our members in their development and professional practice. With limited budgets and trying to keep costs for attending events to a minimum, it is a challenge to ensure events are cost neutral as well as affordable for members.
We made a commitment that we would try and focus our activity under the themes and learnings of our report, Influence for Impact. We have made progress and while not all of our activity was badged as this, it was all based on the feedback from our members.
We had three great events this year which we worked on with other organisations and CIPR Groups. The beginning of the year saw an excellent crisis communications workshop in the South West, giving attendees a great opportunity to ‘role-play’ a crisis as well as a tool kit of materials that would help them handle a crisis in their own organisation. Thank you to Mandy for arranging that and being one of the trainers.
In May 2016 the LPS Group, along with the Local Government Association (LGA), LGcommunications and Newcastle City Council, supported an outstanding event about communications at the heart of devolution. Exploring the crucial role communications will play in involving communities in the devolution conversation.
Drawing on experiences from the North East and beyond, this event explored what communication approaches the sector can take to bring residents in to the devolution debate. There were some great speakers including Andrew Lewis, Assistant Chief Executive, Newcastle County Council, David Holdstock, Director of Communications, Local Government Association, Bridget Aherne, Head of Communications, Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Will Mapplebeck, Strategic Communications Manager, Core Cities Network. Our involvement and benefits to our members would not have been possible without the great work of Steve Park.
In September 2016 an event on resilience was held, linking back to the recommendations in our report ‘Influence for Impact’. The event was held jointly with the CIPR North West Group. We had Amanda Coleman outlining the challenges and opportunities of this ever changing environment, giving some strong examples and Simon Calderbank, who is an expert in performance psychology training, discussing tools and techniques for building resilience and dealing with high pressure. Our committee member Wendy Moran spearheaded this event for our group, thank you Wendy for making those strong links with our colleagues in the North West Group to make this happen.
Good conversations have occurred this year with the Chairs of the other CIPR groups on doing more work together and joint events and we hope to firm up some of those plans and for the new committee to take those forward. As well as get involved in some of the task groups to work on projects across the CIPR.
We also secured Mandy Pearse as our group choice for CIPR Council. Thank you to all our members who voted and for supporting your public sector group choice. Mandy does an excellent job and also sits on the policy committee.
A key task for the committee this year was succession planning and getting new people to join. I am really pleased to see that we have had an influx of nominations from people to join the committee this year. This is also a credit to the work done on our CPD development and research report over the years and the encouragement by previous and existing committee members to share their commitment and enthusiasm with other practitioners. With new people on board, we can can continue to drive the group forward and bring in new ideas and experiences. We have also seen continued growth year on year in terms of membership of the LPS group. This is good news and shows that people working in the sector are committed to professional practice and support.
Shortly after taking on Chair last year, I moved out of the sector after 14 years, and while I work in a related environment which works very closely with local public services, I am now working primarily for a charity. So it makes sense for me to step down as Chair to make way for someone who has their finger on the pulse of local public services to lead the group.
Following the AGM in April 2017:
I am pleased to be re-elected as a committee member for this coming year to support transition.
I wish our new Chair Mandy Pearse, all the best and I know she will be fabulous. Thank you Mandy for your support to me as Chair in your capacity as Vice-Chair and I am so pleased you are putting yourself forward to lead our group. I wish you and the new committee the best of luck and look forward to working with you all.