Press Offices in the 21st Century

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Just a quick brain dump here, arising from a discussion that I had at the ‘unpanel’ at Localgovcamp.

The online community in our council area is getting larger and more vocal, with blogs, pressure groups and other communities cropping up. Often, there are things said that attack the council. In the ‘olden days’ (when attacks of this kind would only appear in the press) we’d draft a response, it would go through an approvals process (Leader, Chief Exec, Portfolio holder etc etc) and it would be sent out to a newspaper.

Now, in the ‘always on’ world of the internet, attacks and questions pop up at a moment’s notice and this long process isn’t always practical - it shows us up to be lumbering, slow and unresponsive. Campaigns can often gain momentum in the time we’re spending getting approval and before we can add our voices to the conversation we find ourselves with a lot more firefighting to do.

If we could get responses out quicker with a lean, quick approvals process (or even (shock, horror) no approvals process at all!), we could get responses out quickly and give our side of the story before things go pear-shaped.

I’m not a press officer, but I do work in a communications environment, and engaging with the online community is something I feel very passionate about. I feel we need to give online methods of communication the same importance we give the ‘dead tree’ press, but make sure we tailor our approach, otherwise we risk being left in the dark ages.

Is anyone else modifying their approvals processes to reflect the web 2.0 world?