What does effective communications leadership actually mean?

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Building trust and confidence should be the starting point for any successful organisation. To succeed it requires recognition of the importance of strategic communications to act as a both a trusted advisor, navigator and leader.

Well, thought-through strategic communications should be the engine that drives corporate plans and community strategies. It should not only be the instigator of compelling narratives, but it should also be the catalyst for seeing those ambitions realised.

Ask most Leaders and Chief Executives and invariably you will find a whole range of requirements expected from your Communications team – most of which will boil down to one thing: effective reputation management.

What do we mean by this?

  • The ability to understand what is in the head of both the Leader of the Council and Chief Executive by effectively dealing with issues, challenges and opportunities
  • Political awareness – local authorities are run by politicians and therefore understanding the political context is vital
  • Horizon scanning – Pre-empting problems and designing solutions through policy making
  • Influencing – Having key relationships in place across Cabinet and Senior Management.
  • Priority setting – by helping to connect and engage citizens and employees with a compelling narrative that brings to life the ambitions and future direction of the council.
  • Insight – The importance of research when it comes to understanding what makes our communications tick.

With changes in the local government landscape there are a whole raft of other skills:

  • Knowledge of behaviour change to help to reduce demand on services through effective campaigns
  • Digital awareness on the changing way people engage with information on social media
  • An understanding of the importance of place marketing when it comes to driving investment in our towns, cities and regions.

LGcomms and the LGA recently published a new best practice guide for local government communications which sets out the skills and conditions needed for effective communications leadership.

Westco, local government’s leading communications consultancy, has 15 years’ experience of improving standards across local government communications. We can help you by looking at the maturity of your communications model and putting an improvement plan in place, including mentoring and support for your communications leader.

For more information or to find out how we can help you, use our contact form below to get in touch!

Communications should not only be the instigator of compelling narratives, but it should also be the catalyst for seeing those ambitions realised.


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