Sun, 05 Aug 2018
NEWBURY Town Council has ditched the idea of forking out thousands of pounds for some “fancy” computer software which would improve the way it communicates with other organisations.
The software would provide a more streamlined way for the council to conduct its PR strategy, namely a more time-effective way in producing press releases.
At a policy and resources committee meeting on Monday evening, members discussed whether it would be wise to embark on a year-long trial with the new software.
This would have been at a cost of £3,500 for a 12-month period with one of Europe’s leading specialists in communications software, Vuelio.
The software enables press releases to be sent out uniformly with a customisable template that can be designed in house.
The program operates on a cloud-based system, which means draft press releases can also be accessible from smart devices, tablets and the more conventional desktops.
A press release is an official statement issued to media outlets, informing them on a particular matter.
The town council issues “at least four press releases a month and often more” – but members struggled to justify the vast sum of money to support the plan.
Tony Stretton (Con, Clay Hill) said: “On reviewing this, the amount quoted is quite a substantial amount of money.
“I get that this is a one-year trial, but it’s still a lot of money for this council.
“It could potentially bring no reward.”
The current process of producing a press release is “cumbersome and time consuming”, according to one town council document.
When producing press releases, a draft communication is emailed separately to several members within the council before being issued to the local and regional press.
However, deputy council leader Miles Evans (Con, Victoria) said trialling the software would be an opportunity for officers to get “more bang for their buck”.
This was echoed by Gillian Durrant, the town council’s finance and corporate services officer, who said the software would allow councillors to edit press releases simultaneously.
She also highlighted that such documents could be circulated to a greater number of organisations.
Anthony Pick (Con. St John’s) questioned whether the software was too comprehensive for the town council, citing it as the same type that West Berkshire Council uses.
Speaking on the initiative, Mr Pick said: “It’s a good idea – the concept has merit – but perhaps some software for a body of our size would be more appropriate and effective.
“We can’t generate fancy software out of the air, but it does seem a very large sum of money for a functionality which would seem to be relatively straightforward.”