Part 5: Other Commonly Arising Issues

Good Practice for Managing Public Communications by Local Authorities.

Use of surveys and market research

Councils should target their communications resources to best effect. In appropriate cases, professional advice should be sought, and soundly obtained survey and market research information may be used.

Councils should meet acceptable standards in survey and market research information. To assist Councils to meet those standards:

  • we reproduce in Appendix 2 on page 28 the ten principles identified by Statistics New Zealand underpinning its Protocols for Official Statistics; and
  • they can find useful guidance in the Statistics New Zealand publication A Guide to good survey design16.

Joint ventures and sponsorship

Many Councils seek to be involved with their communities, and may engage in collaborative ventures with other public agencies and business and community groups.17 Communication (for example, to promote public education or changes in people’s behaviour) may be a feature of such ventures.

There is no reason in principle why a Council should not join with another agency or group to publish information for the benefit of the community – provided the activity is consistent with the Council’s role and purpose. The use of private or community sponsorship for a Council communication may be a feature of such co-operation.

Examples of joint communication could include:

  • a joint venture with the Police to issue information about individual and community safety in the Council’s district; and
  • the use of business sponsorship for a Council advertisement of a community event.

The Council’s Communications Policy should, if the Council wishes to involve a partner, address:

  • the types of communications for which joint ventures or sponsorship are appropriate; and
  • the controls and procedures designed to manage the associated risks – such as perception of Council “capture” by a business or community group, actual or potential conflict of interest, and community attitude to the nature of the problem.

As a minimum, the Communications Policy should:

  • require all mandatory communications to be funded solely by Council;
  • require every communication joint venture or sponsorship proposal to be supported by a sound business case that is approved at an appropriate level within the Council organisation;
  • set out the criteria for selecting a communication joint venture partner or sponsor, in order to avoid conflict of interest and prevent a partner or sponsor from gaining (or being perceived to gain) inappropriate commercial or political advantage;
  • require both the Council and the joint venture partner or sponsor to adhere to the principles (including those in respect of editorial control) that it has adopted in the Communications Policy; and
  • contain clear guidance as to the placement of logos, slogans, and other sponsorship references.

16: ISBN 0-477-06492-2; revised July 1995. Copies can be ordered through the Statistics New Zealand web site at:

17: Section 14(1)(e), LGA.

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