Listen, involve and represent: Identifying priorities for local government communicators

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Studies have indicated that media relations often dominate local government (LGOV) communication activity, but little is known about influences on, or outcomes of, different activities and approaches. This study explored consequences of different approaches to communication in Australian LGOV, and thus contributes evidence for practice and theory development. A total of 330 Australian LGOV communicators completed online surveys. Exploratory factor analysis identified underlying communication related differences between organisations including: organisational support for communication; procedural fairness; media management activity; access to top management; customer and accountability communication; internal communication, and attitude of media to organisation. Factors were used as independent variables. Correlation helped to identify relationships among independent variables and three dependent variables, community approval, staff turnover and media coverage. Regression was used to identify predictors of the dependent variables. The findings here challenge the dominance of media management and promotion in LGOV communication. An emphasis on managing media and promoting the organisation was not significantly associated with the desired outcomes. Important goals such as high community approval, favourable media coverage, and low staff turnover were more likely to be realised where LGOV valued communication planning and evaluation, and communication focused on fairness principles such as listening, transparency and broad participation in decision making.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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