By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter
Ashfield District Council will spend £6,000 over the coming 12 months on a new system to monitor all news coverage featuring the authority.
The new ‘media monitoring tool’ was approved during a delegated decision this month and will help to save time and end manual checks of all news coverage.
Currently, the Ashfield Independent-led authority’s communications team checks all media coverage for print, online and social media each day.
The new tool will instead automatically notify the council when it has been mentioned in the news, providing both a ’round-up’ and real-time alerts.
The council says the move will allow the communications team to be “on the front foot with media, rather than reactionary”.
And it will give the council a dashboard outlining all mentions and topics where the authority features in the news, as well as comments from other organisations, councillors and MPs.
In a report, the authority said: “Currently media monitoring is done manually with three comms officers checking daily for media updates and tracking where press releases have been published.
“This could take several hours a week per officer versus this automated, direct alert proposal.
“The same applies to filing press coverage. Instead of buying or scanning newspapers and cutting out articles, they are digitally filed.
“[This is] far easier and convenient to then share across the organisation.”
Similar tools are not uncommon for most public sector organisations and many other councils have also have in-house or hired systems to review press, online and social media coverage.
By using the new system, the authority says it will identify how much media coverage has been generated by the communications team.
This can then be quantified in financial value to ensure money is being well-spent in the department.
“It will allow the team to pilot the tool and understand the value for money delivered,” the council added.
“This will also be a key consideration of the current review of the communications function, of which modernisation and the use of digital tools are in scope.”
The system will be piloted over the coming 12 months and could be continued if it helps to improve the communications team functionally and financially.
Councillor David Hennigan (Ind) is the council’s cabinet member for corporate communications.
He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “Media monitoring is a must for any professional organisation.
“It is crucial that councils monitor effectively the output of the media. Any councils worth their salt monitor their media.
“This was my decision. I feel this will ensure we gain a better perspective and understanding of what residents’ priorities are.
“Our communications team is one of the smallest in the East Midlands.
“They provide a value service including answering resident’s queries directly online.
“It will save our communication’s team valuable time as they currently monitor the media manually which takes an inordinate amount of time.”