Councils ‘failing to use newsrooms effectively’

UK local authorities are failing to make the most of their substantial investment into online newsrooms, according to new research.

A study by online communications firm Mynewsdesk said that councils have done little to help visitors find and navigate the news sections of their websites.

More than half fail to link to their newsrooms from anywhere on their homepage, it said, meaning that councils have a long way to go to improve engagement with residents, the media and other stakeholders.

Peter Ingman, chief executive of Mynewsdesk said, “Local authorities need to work harder to engage with their citizens and the diverse range of audiences they serve.

“It is clear that councils are investing in the tools needed to do this but simple things like updating their newsrooms regularly with interesting, useful content and connecting them to social media channels could possibly reduce calls to their contact centres and put less of a strain resources.”

Mynewsdesk’s study showed that local government in the UK scored an average of 23.75 per cent in a best practice rating system, some way behind the 38 per cent average score of the world’s top 100 brands.

The report found that local authorities are aware of the importance of multimedia content with an above average number including image (30%) and video (20%) libraries

However, they have performed significantly below average when it came to populating these with any sort of visual content.

Similarly, they performed poorly in providing links to their social media channels which the study identified as an ideal way for local authorities to connect with their residents. Researchers only found one local authority provided a responsively designed newsroom for use on mobile devices.

Guy Bellamy, founder of Elephant Communications said, “The challenge for the communications practitioner today is to work good content across a broader range of channels, making them work together rather than operate in silos. The only way to manage this and to fully understand the audience’s terms of engagement is through a multimedia platform.”

Mynewsdesk studied the top10 brands from five different UK sectors and benchmarked them across 60 different criteria, taking in to account content, social media integration, newsroom structure, features, multimedia, blogging and mobile functionality.

The study picked out Manchester City Council and City of Edinburgh Council as having the best council website newrooms that it examined.

Colin Marrs

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