Communication Policy | City of Casey
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27 September 2018

Communication Policy

Version 2.1

1. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to provide understanding and guidance for the appropriate use of communications tools, including verbal, printed, and digital, by City of Casey employees, Councillors and contractors while conducting Council business.

The Communications Policy is an important document that helps to protect Council’s reputation by ensuring consistency and accuracy in the information Council places in the public realm.

2. Definitions

Council

means Casey City Council, being a body corporate consituted as a municipal Council under the Local Government Act 1989

Councillors means the individuals holding the office of a member of Casey City Council
Council Officer means the Chief Executive Officer and staff of Council appointed by the Chief Executive Officer

3. Scope

This policy applies to elected Councillors, the Executive Management Team and employees including full-time, part-time, contract, casual, work experience and trainees, contractors, and volunteers of the City of Casey.


4. Context

In all forms of communication, including verbal, printed or digital Councillors and employees are expected to adhere to the highest standards of ethical practice and professional competence.

Council recognises that the key to building positive and lasting partnerships with the community requires effective two-way communication. It is the policy of the City of Casey to communicate openly and honestly as a transparent organisation and to maximise public knowledge of our activities.  

Council is committed to developing and implementing communication policies, practices and resources that:

  • Inform the community of key Council decisions, services, programs and initiatives.
  • Promote accessibility by the community to Councillors and Council officers.
  • Promote transparency and accountability of Council’s decision-making processes.
  • Promote opportunities for the community to participate in Council activities.
  • Build civic pride through a positive image of the City of Casey.

Councillors and employees of the City of Casey are expected to demonstrate standards of conduct and behaviour that are consistent with relevant legislation, regulations and policies. 

5. Policy

To ensure the City of Casey is delivering services in-line with community needs and expectations, Council communicates with key stakeholders through a variety of channels to engage with their needs, concerns, ideas and aspirations. 

Council accepts the important role of the media to report on issues of interest to the community and its right to scrutinise Council activities. Council will strive to maintain positive and respectful relationships with media outlets. 

 

5.1 Media Relations and Spokespeople 

5.1.2 Media Relations

The Communications Department handles all media enquiries. Council staff are not permitted to be interviewed or provide a response to the media and must direct any enquiries to the Communications Department.

The Mayor is the official spokesperson on decisions of the Council. If the Mayor is unavailable, the Deputy Mayor/s or relevant portfolio holder will act as Council’s official spokesperson.

While it is recognised that Councillors can speak to the media in their capacity as individual Councillors, it is also recommended that they advise the Communications Department of any media interactions so that a Council-wide perspective can be obtained and the Mayor may be informed.

5.1.3 Spokespeople

The Communications Department handles all media enquiries. Council staff are not permitted to be interviewed or provide a response to the media and must direct any enquiries to the Communications Department. 

The Mayor is the official spokesperson on decisions of the Council. If the Mayor is unavailable, the Deputy Mayor/s or relevant portfolio holder will act as Council’s official spokesperson. 

While it is recognised that Councillors can speak to the media in their capacity as individual Councillors, it is also recommended that they advise the Communications Department of any media interactions so that a Council-wide perspective can be obtained and the Mayor may be informed.

The Mayor is responsible for allocating public speaking roles at Council organised events requiring Councillor participation.

The CEO is the official spokesperson on high level operational matters. Responses to media enquiries of a day-to-day operational level matter or enquiries of a technical nature are referred to the relevant manager to act as spokesperson. 

The Manager Communications may defer a media enquiry to another employee at their discretion or act as official spokesperson in the event that another spokesperson is unavailable or for complex enquires where multiple departments are involved. 

The roles and responsibilities for each spokesperson are outlined in the following table:

Authorised Officer

Roles and Responsibilities

Mayor

Official spokesperson on all policy matters and decisions of the Council.

Deputy Mayor/s

Acts as the Mayor’s delegated spokesperson if the Mayor is not available.

Portfolio Holder

Delegated by the Mayor on matters relevant to a specific area Councillor portfolio or as a result of a Notice of Motion. 

Councillors

Able to speak to the media in their capacity as individual Councillors.

CEO

Official spokesperson on high level operational matters.

Directors

Official spokesperson as delegated by the CEO or Manager Communications.

Managers

Delegated spokesperson on day-to-day operational or technical enquiries.

Manager Communications

Able to delegate enquiries to employees outside of these roles and responsibilities and act as Council spokesperson where necessary. 

Communications Department

Responsible for coordinating responses and providing information to the media on behalf of Council. 

Staff

No media role unless requested by the

CEO/Director/Manager to provide information or comment in the formulation of a media enquiry.  May be chosen by the Communications Department to feature in communications material as the subject matter expert. 

 

5.2 Communications Channels 

The City of Casey utilises a variety of communication tools to provide the media and community with timely information. The dissemination of information by digital communication channels is the preferred method in line with Casey’s External Communications Strategy. Council's communication channels are for the use of the organisation's events and priorities only.             

 5.2.2 Media Releases

The Communications Department is responsible for coordinating, approving and dispatching all media releases, photo opportunities and media briefings following appropriate authorisation.  Protocol for quoting in media releases:

  • City-wide or policy-oriented stories are to quote the Mayor or delegated portfolio holder as determined by the Mayor.
  • Stories connected to a specific ward or geographic location may quote the relevant ward Councillor and/or the Mayor.
  • Stories arising from the work of a committee are quoted on by a Councillor who serves on that committee and/or the Mayor.
  • Contentious issues are quoted on by the Mayor.
  • Operational issues are quoted on by the CEO or relevant Director or their delegate.
  • Staff with specialist knowledge may be quoted in media releases with the permission of the relevant delegated authority.

Media releases are distributed to local and metropolitan media outlets and posted on Council’s website. 

Joint media releases involving external third parties are discouraged and may only be issued with the approval of the Manger Communications. 

 

5.2.3 Websites

Council’s websites are a key communication tool. Whilst hosting a range of content specific to the services, events and programs offered by the City of Casey, they also provide an avenue to distribute information to the community and media. 

Content published on Council’s websites aims to conform to Level AA of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2 (WCAG 2.0). All content must be approved by the Communications Department and relevant Department Managers, through a work-flow process prior to it being published online.

The development of sub-sites, including social media pages, is discouraged, and all requests must be approved by the Manager Communications. 

5.2.4 Digital communications (including social media)

The City of Casey recognises digital communications is an effective way to engage with the community. Council creates specific content that meets and exceeds the expectations of a target audience in a specific digital platform, and is in line with the City of Casey strategic objectives.

Roles have been developed within the City of Casey to manage content and maintain dialogue with the community through each platform. These roles undergo specialist training and are expected to:

  • Gain authorisation from the Communications Department
  • Adhere to Council’s Codes of Conduct and relevant policies and procedures 
  • Moderate during business hours from Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays)
  • Respond to community requests within two business days
  • Delete comments that are deemed inappropriate.

Councillors are not permitted to post on Council’s digital communications channel or post comments under Council posts, and Council will not tag individual Councillors in posts. Councillors and employees are encouraged to share Council’s content on their personal accounts. 

5.2.5 Personal use 

The City of Casey encourage Councillors and employees to participate in all forms of digital communications and to understand the views expressed by Councillors and employees are those of the individual and not of Council. 

When using digital communications in a personal manor, Councillors and employees should avoid speaking on behalf of Council and to be mindful of speaking about Council, Councillors and employees. What may have been intended for friends and family may end up being seen by a broader audience.

Failure to adhere to the above guidelines may result in disciplinary action.  

5.2.6 Publications

The Communications Department prepare and issue the Citynews magazine to residents, as well as other editorial and advertising content on a regular basis.  

 Citynews features a Ward News section, limited to a maximum one page per Councillor. It is the preferred Council channel for Councillors to communicate with constituents. Ward News content should focus on matters directly connected to Council such as ward events and capital works. Content that is unrelated to Council matters, overly religious, political or offensive may not be published. Ward News should feature text and images only, any content outside of this will be considered at the discretion of the Manager Communications. 

 Publications produced by Council departments must be professionally produced by a member of the Casey Design Panel, meet Council editorial standards and style guides and be proofread before seeking final approval from the Communications Department. 

 5.2.7 SMS 

SMS can be used to contact residents who are already listed on a database with the purpose of being contacted by Council. People who are added to future

databases, must be informed of their choice as to whether they do or do not want to be contacted by SMS. 

 It is vital that the wording in a text message is clear and concise and does not exceed 160 characters. Abbreviations can be used if necessary; however, care must be taken to ensure that this can be understood by a wide audience. 

 It must be identified in the text that the message is from the City of Casey or an individual from the organisation and provide some form of contact detail, whether that is an email address, physical address or a telephone number.

 An opt-out system must be made available and people who request not to be contacted by SMS need to be removed from the database. 

 5.2.8 E-newsletters

External E-newsletters (Electronic Direct Mail) provide specific information to targeted audiences via email. All E-newsletters must follow our Branding Requirements (see 4.3 Branding Requirements). 

 The Communications Department must sign off the graphic design template including logo use for the first edition. Subsequent editions must continue to use the approved template. If re-branding is required, the Communications Department must review and approve prior to the next edition. 

 All content must be reviewed by the Communications Department and relevant department manager prior to each edition being published.

 Subscription information should be listed on Council’s website to encourage sign-up. Privacy and anti-spamming legislation must be adhered to, including the ability to opt-in\unsubscribe from the E-newsletter.

5.2.9 Email Signature Banners

 Email signature banners may be used to promote high-level Council initiatives, events and/or advocacy priorities. 

 The use of email signature banners is at the discretion of the Communications Department and will be determined in line with the associated guidelines and External Communications Strategy.

 All banners must be professionally designed in accordance with the City of Casey Branding Guidelines. 

5.3 Branding Requirements

The Communications Department is the custodian of the City of Casey brand and all representations of the brand must be approved by the Communications Department prior to being distributed. 

 Third parties wishing to use the City of Casey or Bunjil Place branding in any form of promotional or advertising material must seek the relevant approvals from the Communications Department prior to printing. 

5.3.2 Logo Usage

City of Casey logos are to appear on all Council communications including correspondence, publications, forms, advertisements, displays, signage, employee uniforms, fleet vehicles and other plant, electronic communications and any other relevant communication medium.

Where appropriate and in-line with contractual obligations, Council contractors are to display the City of Casey logo on their vehicles/plant/publications, with the approval of the Communications Department.

Co-branded media releases are discouraged and may only be issued where there is a significant non-commercial partnership, alliance or sector leading innovation. 

The Bunjil Place logo should be applied in accordance with the Bunjil Place Brand and Style Guide, which sits as part of the City of Casey’s Brand and Style Guide.

The Bunjil Place logo is to appear on all marketing materials that are specific to the facility including (but not limited to) correspondence, publications, newsletters, forms, advertisements, displays, promotional signage, and employee uniforms. Bunjil Place brand applications must be approved by the Marketing Department. 

All City of Casey logos are to be used in line with the respective Branding Guidelines. Approval must be sought by the Communications Department prior to using a logo. Failure to use a Council logo without permission is in breach of Council’s copyright and intellectual property. 

Council’s logos include (but are not limited to):

  • City of Casey
  • Bunjil Place
  • Wilson Botanic Park Berwick
  • Casey Cardinia Region
  • Casey Kids Carnival
  • City of Casey Youth Services
  • Ageing Positively in Casey
  • Casey Arc
  • Casey RACE

5.3.3 Advertising

Council will undertake advertising to communicate information and promote events, activities and services to both the local community and beyond. Advertising is recognised as a key tool for marketing purposes. Advertising will be placed within the channel most appropriate to reach the target audience with the relevant content and includes (but is not limited to):

  • Print media: local and/or metro
  • Publications: local magazines, specialist industry specific publications
  • Broadcast media: television and or radio
  • Online: Google, social media, relevant websites and other platforms
  • Digital: AV screens in various locations
  • Outdoor advertising: billboards etc.

All public advertisements must seek the approval of the Communications Department and meet Brand and Style Guide requirement.

5.3.4 Signage

All City of Casey and Bunjil Place signs (including digital signs) are to adhere to the standards outlined in the respective Branding Guidelines and must be approved by the Communications Department. In addition, Bunjil Place signage must be developed in conjunction with the Digital Signage Strategy. 

 5.3.5 Public Displays

All City of Casey and Bunjil Place displays or exhibits are to include the appropriate City of Casey logo and be of a professional standard.

 6. Administrative Updates 

It is recognised that, from time to time, circumstances may change leading to the need for minor administrative changes to this document.  Where an update does not materially alter this document, such a change may be made administratively.  Examples include a change to the name of a Council department, a change to the name of a Federal or State Government department, and a minor update to legislation which does not have a material impact. However, any change or update which materially alters this document must be by resolution of Council.

7. Review

The next review of this document is scheduled for completion by 30 June 2021. 

8. Breaches

Breaches of this Policy will be dealt with in accordance with the Councillors’ Code of Conduct, the Code of Conduct for Employees, the Code of Conduct for Volunteers and Council’s Internal Disciplinary Code.