The Local Government Association's survey of local authority communications has a wealth of interesting - in some cases eye-opening - information about how councils go about one of the most fundamental aspects of their work. And for the most part, its findings are encouraging and a tribute to the professionalism of communications staff and senior managers in local government today.
But the weaknesses which emerge from the report are obvious. Fewer than half of those taking part in the survey regard effective monitoring and analysis of communication initiatives as important, and fewer than a third think it important to learn from campaigns. No authority would build a road or adopt a policy on care home inspection with such a disregard for the evidence, so why must communications staff work in the dark, unaware of what works and what doesn't?
And, while 48 per cent of local authorities have had to implement their crisis media plan at some time, a third still have no plan to implement.
Perhaps the most encouraging findings to emerge from the survey are the commitment on the part of many authorities to adopt best practice in their communications, and their willingness to invest new money in making them work.
The task for those working in authorities where this is not the case is to convince senior officers - and members - that communications is not a bolt-on added extra, but an integral part of the role of a public body.