Thursday, 29 January 2009

Ministers should be available to give local angle

More senior officials and ministers should be available for interviews with local media journalists to increase understanding of the local impact of government policies, Lord Fowler’s Communications Select Committee has recommended.
The Central Office of Information has been urged to forge better relationships with local and regional media in a bid to improve government communications at a local level.
A committee report this week called on the COI to “take the lead in improving standards” of government engagement with local media, the Newspaper Society reports.
Regional press officers should receive more training to increase understanding of local media, tailor press releases to a local level, and become “more proactive” at building relationships, the report said.
The NS says witnesses who gave evidence to the committee criticised regional press releases which were simply a rehash of a national press releases “with a few local statistics added on” and called for better information at a local level.
The report said: “One way to engage the regional and local media more effectively would be to add more than local statistics to national press releases and to guide journalists through the local implications of an announcement.
“Another way of engaging the local and regional media is for ministers themselves to be more available for interview and comment on the local aspects of stories.”

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