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WORKSHOPS ANNOUNCED TO DEVELOP COMMUNICATIONS AWARENESS

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Local Government's Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) will be re-running their popular Communications For Me...
Local Government's Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) will be re-running their popular Communications For Members workshop next year, at two locations across the UK.

The objective of the day-long workshop is to develop councillors' awareness of the importance of communications and to give practical information about how to improve their relationship with the media.

The course was developed as a result of the Connecting with Communities(CwC) project, a joint local and central government initiative involving the ODPM, the Local Government Association and the IDeA.

According to MORI research revealed through the project, there is a clear link between residents' satisfaction levels and the amount of communication activity of their council. The MORI data indicates that councils who ensure that they are communicating with residents and have good media relations, tend to have more satisfied residents.

Another key finding from the project was that councils communicate more effectively if there is a communications' commitment from the top tier of councillors. However, according to MORI Social Research Institute director Ben Page, many members are yet to be convinced of the importance of communications.

Mr Page said: 'There are visionary councillors who understand how important communications is and use innovative ways to communicate better, but there are many who don't see it.'

IDeA'sprincipal communication's consultant, Pascoe Sawyers, said: 'Communications can, and does, make a real difference to perceptions of a council, which is why members can benefit from learning more about how the media likes to work.

'The Communications for Members workshop will tackle the dos and don'ts of handling the media, as well as exploring the best ways of promoting a council's achievements. Local government is changing and improving rapidly. Where major changes and progress are happening, it is vital to communicate this to the people that pay for and use those services. Now, and more than ever before, councillors that care about local democracy must embrace dialogue with the media.'

The IDeA's Communications for Members Workshops take place on 12 February, 2004, in London and on the 24 February, 2004, in Leeds.

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