Good photographs and lively articles contribute to a successful residents’ publication in Wokingham Borough News. That’s the view of a panel of judges who judged it to be the best in its field at a recent awards ceremony.
The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Local Public Services Awards recognise best practice in local public services communications in the current economic climate. Wokingham Borough News, the council’s newsletter for residents, delivered to some 60,000 households in the borough three times a year, took home first prize in the external newsletter or magazine category, beating fellow finalist Tanbridge District Council.
Judges Eoghan Mortell of consultancy Working Word and independent consultant and CIPR fellow John Brown said: ‘The revamped magazine looks good and reads well. All the information is clearly presented, supported by a strong front cover and good people pictures inside…it is good value for money…’
Wokingham Borough Council’s communications team was also a finalist in the Media Relations Excellence category and made the shortlist in Communicators of the Year.
Sarah Barrow, head of customer services and administration, Sarah Barrow said: “We’re extremely conscious of value for money when looking at our residents’ magazine. We asked our customers what they wanted to see and have re-designed the magazine around their really helpful feedback. People have told us they want more real-life stories about where they live as well as a newsletter which tells them about council news and services. The response to the new-look Borough News has been extremely positive, including the online version with video stories.
"We want to continue to improve, however, so welcome comments from any of our residents about how we can better communicate with them."
Leader of the council Cllr David Lee said: "In tough times, it is arguably even more important that we get our communications right. We have been making, and will continue to face, some tough decisions and we need to work with our communities in order to do that.
"While we continue to extend and improve the range of ways in which we talk with our residents, Wokingham Borough News remains our flagship communication. This recognition is well-deserved by the officers and members who have worked hard to make it a success."
Wokingham Borough News is just one way in which Wokingham Borough Council keeps in touch with its residents. In addition to the council’s increasingly interactive website, email, telephone and face-to-face contact, the customer service centre Wokingham Direct also offers live web chat, text messaging and information kiosks. Digital Television is available through Sky and Virgin Media, 3G, iPhone and Android app and via the Nintendo Wii. People can also contact the council through its Twitter and Facebook channels.