Trends in government communication in The Netherlands
Published inJournal of Communication Management
Purpose - To provide a current state of the art of government communication in The Netherlands which can help to promote a dialogue about how communication quality in this field can be improved further. Design/methodology - In 2006 a survey was conducted for the second time to trace the communication trends in ministries, provinces, municipalities and water boards. The survey was set up in association with sector representatives and it is implemented every two years. The respondents were the top manager and the communication managers of all organizations in the 4 public sectors. The questionnaire was answered online and the response was 33%. Findings - The communication budget remained reasonably intact, even in more difficult years, and is now regarded with cautious optimism. The principal goals of government communication are to make government action more transparent and to generate interaction with the outside world. The respondents saw the main tasks as: communicate from a wider societal perspective, make the organization more communicative internally and (especially in the municipalities) do more work on citizen participation. What strengths should a communication professional possess? As in 2004, when a similar survey was conducted, the most frequently cited competencies were analytical insight and empathy. In the discipline-specific competencies, advisory skills and knowledge of the target group were mentioned most often. Knowledge of the political environment scored slightly lower than in 2004. The section on the main developments in government communication met with a mixed response. The ministries said more unity and coordination. The provinces mentioned, amongst others, a shift from a re-active to pro-active approach. The municipalities stressed citizen participation and the water boards stressed staying closer to people and their living environment. As in 2004, a common denominator for all the sectors was more attention to digital communication. Now that government communication has further developed, coherence and differences in approach between the tiers of government have to be taken into account. Practical implementations - The survey provides insight into what the various public sectors (ministries, provinces, municipalities and water boards) see as the added value of communication. Originality/value - This investigation focuses on government communication and gives insight into this area of communication. ...