Communications Strategy

(A pdf copy of this policy is available for download here.)

1. Introduction

St. Just Town Council has a duty to engage effectively with its residents, partners, employees and stakeholders and to do this it is vital that a communications strategy be developed.

Communications is a complex, multi-dimensional topic and, contrary to popular belief, it is not only about public relations.

This strategy will look at how the Council can develop its communications over the next 12 months.

The overall aim is that Council communications should be a two-way process; to give people the information to understand accurately what the council does, to enable informed decisions, and to get information from residents and stakeholders to understand their needs.

1.1 Why is communication important?

Local government communications have, over the past few years, increasingly focused on reputation. Better communications lead to recognition and respect – reputation does matter. Many councils fail to effectively communicate who they are and what they do – and the less people know about an organisation, the less likely they are to rate it highly.

Achieving the Council’s aims and objectives requires good communication with every individual, group and organisation we work with, or provide services for.

An important part of any organisation’s role is to ensure that the information provided both by and to it is easily accessible, relevant and timely. The Council must recognise the importance of communication and be committed to developing its own services to meet the expectations of the community it serves.

The advances made in information technology offer exciting new ways of communicating. At the same time, for many people, traditional methods – newspapers, telephone, leaflets – still play a fundamental role that must not be undervalued.

1.2 What should we be communicating?

 Research by the Local Government Association, states that the most important drivers of council reputation among local residents are:

  • perceived quality of services overall;
  • perceived value for money;
  • media coverage;
  • direct communications;
  • council performance;
  • clean, green and safe environment; and
  • positive experiences of contact with council employees.

If the Council is to build a strong reputation, effectively inform residents, engage and improve customer satisfaction, then these drivers must form the basis of its communications strategy.

 There is also a need for proactive and reactive information:

  • Proactively – telling people information to influence and change attitudes
  • Reactively – giving residents information they want to know

1.3 Who should we be communicating with?

   The Council’s audiences are wide and varied but will typically include:

  • Residents;
  • Town Council staff and councillors;
  • Hard-to-reach groups, including young people;
  • The media;
  • Cornwall Council officers and councillors;
  • Voluntary groups and organisations;
  • The business community;
  • Local MP
  • Other public sector organisations (police, health, fire, ); and
  • Visitors and those who work in the Town.

(Audiences have to be targeted for different initiatives and communicated to appropriately by using the right tools which will be looked at in sections 3 and 4).

1.4 Our aims and vision:

The Town Council’s main aim is  ‘Working together for the community’   for the benefit of residents, partners, employees, stakeholders and visitors. The Council’s communications work will:

  • raise residents satisfaction, trust and confidence levels;
  • raise awareness of services provided by the Town Council ;
  • raise the profile of St. Just for business and tourism;
  • support elected members in their role as community leaders;
  • make best use of technology to innovate and engage with hard-to-reach groups such as young people; and
  • proactively challenge inaccuracies and misrepresentations that might undermine the brand image or integrity of the Council.

Our vision is that our residents will:

  • know what services the Council provides and the quality of service they can expect from us;
  • feel confident and satisfied with our services, and their costs; and
  • understand how to get involved with, or influence, our work.

2.0 Existing communication methods

Communication methods are expanding to reach more people in the community and to establish its brand.

Current communications include:-

  • Agendas and public reports;
  • Council website;
  • Customer service via email and telephone;
  • Monthly Mayor’s report in local magazine (Pendeen Outreach – circulation of 600 hardcopies and available on-line) ;
  • Sharing relevant emails with members and officers;
  • Press releases to local press;
  • Strategic Plan – 2024 – 2027;
  • Annual Report; and
  • Appointments to outside bodies (Tin Coast Partnership, Police Liaison Group, St. Just Twinning Group and Cornwall Council Community Area Partnership) .

The Council also ensures that all communication activity takes into account the differing accessibility needs, adhering the accessibility standards for the sector.

3.0. Managing the media effectively to promote and defend the council

The media plays a strong role in shaping perceptions of local government, so informed reporting is vital.

The Communities and Local Government report found people were most positive about their council in areas where the council had a good relationship with the local media.

Our key points for effective management of media relations are to:

  • Be helpful, polite and positive;
  • Never say “no comment”;
  • Ensure any statements to hostile enquiries are cleared by the Town Clerk and keep written records of responses to journalists;
  • Ensure the appropriate council spokesperson is fully briefed and available for interview if required;
  • Issue timely and relevant press releases; and
  • Pre-empt potential stories arising from council agendas/minutes by issuing proactive PR.
  • To enhance the above media relations the ‘news’ section on the website will include media releases and a selection of photographic material for journalists use.

3.1 Publish regularly to inform residents

Research shows that there is a direct link between how well informed the public is about council services and how satisfied they are with them. Therefore, by regularly communicating with our local residents we can engender a more positive ethos and people are more likely to feel that the Council offers value for money and provides a good quality of service.

Regular communication with the electorate also fulfils part of the Communication & Community Engagement criteria for Quality Council Status, should the council strive for this award in the future.

As part of this strategy the council contributes to the local community magazine – Pendeen Outreach. This is available online and promoted through social media links. 600 hard copies are printed and placed in the Stores ,Pendeen, the Centre for Pendeen, Geevor Cafe, the Church and various outlets in St Just.

3.2 Ensure the council brand is consistently linked to services

The Council will look to brand its communications consistently, ensuring a single brand identity by:

  • Making sure all officers have access to electronic logos and templates (press releases, letters, etc);
  • Using a uniform font type – all printed communication should display the Council logo and should use Arial 12 font; and
  • Developing a photographic library which supports the Council’s brand and is available to staff, journalists and partners online.

3.3 Carry out regular consultation

The Council is committed to consulting local taxpayers, service users, local businesses, service providers and council officers and members, to identify ways in which to improve the services that the council provides.

Consultation is a key part in the Communications & Engagement Strategy as it is a two-way exchange of views between local people and the Council. The council is keen to get people’s opinions about both the future of the parish and the services they deliver. This will help the council  to make informed decisions and allow the council to tell people about why they provide services in the way they do.

At present, most of the Council’s consultation is by way of community feedback and members interaction with the public.

3.4 Maintain and develop website

The Town Council already has a website which is regularly updated and contains key information about the Council, consultations, our services and important events. There is an opportunity to develop the website further.

3.5 Work with community organisations

St. Just and its surrounding communities  are fortunate to have active community groups and organisations which provide important services to the community. Over the years they have established links with difficult to reach people in the community and are well respected. Two-way engagement with these groups is vital to a thriving town council. Councillors of the town council are active in their communities and already have links with many organisations, through their role in the community. To establish the town council’s brand councillors are a key link to promote the services the council provides and the differences between the council and the Unitary Authority.

The Town Council encourages all community organisations to advertise their events on the Community Noticeboard ( situated in Market Square).

Community groups are encouraged to apply through the town council’s community grant scheme, which is established to support projects in the community undertaken by  non-profit organisations.

To celebrate the achievements of community groups and individuals, the town council has established an annual Community Awards Scheme. This scheme is divided into categories which best identify the achievements of community groups and individuals within the community.

3.6 Work with the Unitary Authority

A mutual respect and understanding of pressures between authorities is important. To understand these and share our work in the community, the council is represented at the quarterly CAP meetings.

The relationship with the local unitary councillor is also important to action improvements to services and assets, along with exhibiting the Town Council’s work to build reputation. This relationship is currently strongly maintained as the unitary councillor is also a Member of the Town Council.

3.7 Noticeboards

There are noticeboards at the Library in St. Just and the Car-park in Pendeen has also been used to display agenda and notices.

The Town Council also has a community noticeboard sited in Market Square. This noticeboard is used to promote local events.

4.0 Future engagement

The Town Council’s Strategic Plan has established its priorities for 2024 -2027. Public engagement and consultation will be carried out to enable the council to make informed decisions around the key priorities.

Social media could be used as an additional way of providing a noticeboard to promote events, meetings and news from the council with links to partner organisations.

Press reports could be created before and after events to submit to the local newspaper. Further engagement could be to write reports to the press with updates following key meetings and consultation events.

5.0 Evaluation

It will be important to measure any actions taken to enable the strategy to be developed.

What can we measure?

  • Raised awareness of the Town Council and the services it provides;
  • Attitudes towards the town council; and
  • Participation and engagement with Council projects, initiatives and consultation

How will we do this?

  • Consultation with residents – perception and satisfaction surveys;
  • Measure press coverage; and
  • Hits on website and social media.

Adopted by St. Just Town Council February 2024