Digital PR experts Revolver have called upon local authorities to embrace the digital media if they are to achieve set targets of measurability and improved performance.
Scotland's leading digitally-enabled PR consultancy claims that a stategically managed digital media plan is the most efficient and cost effective method of continually measuring performance and carrying out sentiment analysis of local authority services and initiatives. The agency believes the amalgamation of digital media into existing methods of measuring and reviewing local authority performance would provide a fast and effective route towards achieving the efficiency savings demanded of many councils in Audit Scotland's February report.
“Scotland's local authorities are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Under attack from one side for failing to provide services with due efficiency and transparency, from the other they are being compelled to drive through cost savings that make a near impossible job ten times harder,” said Iain Bruce, Revolver PR's Managing Director.
“With budgets uncertain and even greater demand likely to be placed upon council services in the short to medium term, the use of digital media for monitoring council activities, competitively benchmarking services and disseminating information will be central to the evolution of local authorities in the coming months. Like it or not, Digital PR http://www.revolver-pr.co.uk/services/online-pr is about to become central to what they do.”
Competitive tracking and benchmarking performance using digital methods – together with the strategic online management of local authority communications http://www.revolver-pr.co.uk/services/bespoke-pr-communications-campaigns - are increasingly recognised as the most cost effective ways of monitoring performance, sharing services and developing fresh initiatives within local government.
Following comments from Deputy Auditor General for Scotland Caroline Gardner that “difficult decisions and new approaches will be needed to find other ways to increase efficiency and reduce public spending,” a raft of recent reports have suggested that the public sector needs to take on fresh approaches to improving services rather than simply cutting spending.
Revolver PR's call to action echoes the findings of the 2009 Arbuthnott Review, which urged local authorities to justify their spending and improve services to local communities through regular performance reviews and improvement strategies.
Providing a lead to a public sector which has not been entirely enthusiastic in its approach to the digital media, the Review also recommended that authorities should improve engagement with their local communities, prompting Deloitte's Keith Leslie to tell the annual conference of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE): “The biggest thing to be done is to be very clear about what you are doing and to communicate much more than you think is conceivably necessary.
“Enabling online interactivity is key to the community engagement plans proposed in the Single Outcome Agreements of the Arbuthnott Review, because not only does any reaction to the performance of services enable local authorities to carry out sentiment analysis of their services, but it also enables stakeholders to be seen to be dealing with issues in a direct, open and accountable fashion,” said Bruce.
“Many local authorities dread negative feedback, but it is an unavoidable fact of public life. Rather than avoiding unpalatable truths the public sector needs to embrace them, because the successful online management of negative views and complaints will both directly improve community engagement and help move towards creating a more effective and efficent local authority service.”