Lancashire Council devolves information teams

At Lancashire Council we have restructured our internal communication teams across the authority to reflect the recent organisational changes and accountability within the local authority, particularly the split of adult and children’s social care.

From 1 April the council has adopted a devolved system of separate teams providing communication support tailored to the issues and needs of the three main directorates – adult & community services, environment, and children’s services.

Each communication team provides integrated communication advice and support including media relations and publicity (press office), web development, internal communications and public information including ensuring information is fully accessible, for example, easy read, Braille, and translation.

The advantage of dedicated teams that sit within each directorate is greater knowledge of the services and issues, closer working with senior managers, policy and operational staff, focused and strategic communication that support each directorate’s business plan and priorities agreed by the relevant director. Each communication manager links directly to the director and cabinet member.

The council still has a corporate communication function and team which focus on corporate issues such as budget, council tax, constitutional affairs, cabinet, and local democratic business, not necessarily on specific services.

The teams work together, share best practice and information where relevant through a formal communication senior management team.

These changes have saved the authority money using less staff, avoiding duplication while improving effective integrated communication support dedicated to meet the needs of each directorate and its services with clear lines of accountability.

For example, recently our communication team supported the official launch and rollout of the council’s new telecare service. This uses high-tech devices and sensors to monitor and support older people and those with disabilities in their home across the county. It is seen as a high priority service for the directorate and its adult social care teams.

Having a dedicated communication team meant that we were able to be involved in planning meetings with senior operational managers and partner agencies at an early stage in order to advise and manage the whole communication process for rolling-out telecare among internal and external audiences.

The team was already fully aware of how telecare fits the adult social care agenda. An agreed communication strategy was implemented involving publicity and promotional work, leaflets and public information. A dedicated website page about telecare was developed within the team as an important information tool and linked to the publicity campaign for the public.

Information about telecare has also been integrated into the council’s adult social care leaflet which is produced and scrutinised through a reader group involving social care staff and service users. An easy read version for adults with a learning disability and large print leaflets have been produced to ensure information is fully accessible. Leaflets were then distributed to local social care offices and in libraries.

The communication team also advised on how best to communicate and promote telecare to all staff within the directorate, using the intranet and the director’s new and popular blog (also managed by the communication team).


You need good communication skills to produce good public information. Here are some top tips to help you:

1 Why do it? Be clear about the results you want – are you informing, motivating, persuading or saying thank you? Only produce information
when you have a good reason to communicate.

2 Who is it for? Identify your target audience, for example: the media, parents, older people, a particular ethnic group.

3 What do you want to say? Use words and ideas the audience can easily understand. Make sure the message is clear. Remember to include key items, for example: who produced it, when they produced it, where to find more information or more copies.

4 How will you communicate the message? The format you choose must be fit for its purpose. For example: face-to-face contact, leaflet, letter,
radio campaign, press release.

5 When will you send it out? Be aware of other items going out to your audience from other sources. It’s best if your message arrives separately. Make sure it arrives in good time if you want a response by a stated date.

6 Where will it go? You need to know which access points the target audience use. That may mean asking another organisation to include
your message in their publications. Ask the audience how and where they prefer to receive information.

7 Communication is a two-way process and you need to listen to your audience to understand what they need. To be effective, the audience
must both receive and understand the message. Always build in a feedback mechanism so you can evaluate your communication activity and
improve it next time.

Source: ASCC

Andrew Lynn is communication manager, Lancashire Council and north west regional representative for ASCC.

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