Yesterday I published an article about how Stoke-on-Trent City Council Press & Communications Team had been nominated for 5 awards in the Good Communication Awards.
As an adopted Stokie, I am quite proud that the City Council gets nominated for these awards, it is very easy to knock the council for anything and everything but also, lets be proud and shout about the good things. Winning an award for communications isn’t going to fix the potholes, but it does show that the City Council are getting some things right, all they need to do is make that happen across the whole council.
That said, today I am going to look at the reality of the communication between this site and them.
You will have no doubt read in a blog post from Potteye about the arrangements that were or were not agreed about how the press were to contact members of the cabinet.
We received an E-mail explaining to us what we should do, Tony and I discussed it and we both felt it was a retrograde step but decided that if all press & media in the city had to do this, then we would follow suit. Part of us thought at the time, it may put us on a more even footing.
We tried to follow protocol and we tried to get official statements or more information out of the Press & Communications Team on a number of occasions, but as you can see with no success.
Mo Chaudry Resigns From NSRP
When we published the story of Mo Chaudry resigning from the NSRP, I mailed both Mo & a member of the Press & Communications Team asking for a statement. Mo responded to me quite quickly to say there was no statement but agreeing to an interview. The Press & Communications team didn’t respond.
Longton To Get £600,000 Make Over
We got sent the press release for the story about Longton getting an investment of £600,000 over 3 years. I mailed the press officer responsible, asking for some more details, such as which buildings were being targeted, as the press release said 30 but didn’t provide any details.
Even though it says at the bottom of the press release “For further media enquiries please call Press Officer Name at Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s PR and Communications department on 01782 …….” we didn’t get any response.
Council Slammed Over Election Coverage
When I wrote the article about how the Council had been singled out by SOTICM for their poor election coverage, I asked the Press & Communications Team for a response to the SOTICM quote, not my article, I expected them to come back quite quickly with something seeing as the quote was made in a national publication which is read by many other councils & government officials around the country. Again I received no response.
Last week I bumped in to Cllr Tom Reynolds, who holds the Press & Communications Portfolio, I had a chat with him about the whole issue that had raised its head at the full council meeting and the subsequent blog from Potteye. I said to Tom, the thing is, the Press & Comms team don’t do you any favours, as they don’t answer many E-mails. I explained that there are some Press Officers who will always respond but others just ignore our requests.
Tom asked me to send him copies of the E-mails which I had not had a response to and promised to chase them up for me.
First thing Monday morning Tom was good to his word and was chasing them for me. Now it shouldn’t take me having to speak to the portfolio holder to get responses, especially when you see what they were.
Mo Chaudry resigns from NSRP. NSRP asked that no comment was made. That is fine I’m happy with that, so why not tell me and I could just add to the bottom of the article, ‘The City Council declined to comment.’?
Longton Make Over They are still identifying & contacting property owners and until this is done, we can’t put the information in to the public domain. Again, perfectly good response if only I didn’t have to chase for it.
Council Election Coverage. E-Comms manager has been asked to investigate before a response is made. That’s fine, we don’t expect the Press & Communications team to know everything, and we understand that they do need to ask other people. We have still not had a response to this so may be the E-Comms manager is still investigating, although I’m not sure what investigation there is to do.
Cllr Reynolds asked that we CC him on any E-mails we send to the Press & Comms Team, in the short term, so that he is kept in the loop.
Although I don’t like the whole CCing someone on any E-mails in order to solicit a response, I have included Tom on the Emails as he requested.
For the record, does CCing the portfolio holder on an E-mail get me a better more timely response?
Take the City Farm Consultation which closes today, I asked a couple of questions about the consultation, when did it start, how was it publisised etc. Nothing to difficult. It only took 29 hours and Tom Reynolds getting involved again, to get the response I needed.
Communication is not difficult, surely it is good and standard practice to respond to any E-mail asking for information, within say 2 hours, with either the information requested or just a simple, I’ve got your E-mail I’m looking in to it for you and will respond as soon as I can?
Saying that communication is not difficult, the new Chief Press Officer started on 7 June and as far as I am aware, the Press & Communications Department have not introduced her to anyone yet. Maybe they are still working out the wording of the press release.
Maybe it is a bit more difficult than I give them credit for.