At a recent council meeting, Eastleigh Borough Councils new Head of Communications, announced that as part of a revamp of the way the council communicates its ‘good news’ to the borough it will introduce of the use of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to get enable Eastleigh residents to hear firsthand what good work the council does and to enable residents to contact and engage with the council.
Concerned that media reporting of all things Eastleigh was often negative and not always in the best interest of EBC, use of new media technology will be encouraged throughout departments to get their message across to the public as previously, communications from the council had been very disorganised and ineffective.
As part of the Eastleigh News team, I for one welcome the idea that Eastleigh Borough Council will now include all media outlets in their communications. All too often, hyper local news services such as Eastleigh News, have had to do battle with press officers and communications officers who have in the past deemed hyper local news reporters as ‘not real journalists’ and have been unwilling to engage with the services we provide to the local community.
However, concerned that these new and emerging internet portals tend to be used in the main by younger members of our community, I wondered how councillors currently use the existing technologies available to them such as email and internet when communicating with Eastleigh residents?
I decided to test our elected councillors on the use of the simplest and oldest electronic communication, email. Composing a simple message to all 44 elected members of EBC, I sent out an email at midnight to see just who would respond within a 24 hour period on a Wednesday. It is important to note that all members have access to computers at home with internet connections to EBC to collect email, many of which are supplied to councillors free of charge by us the tax payer as unreported expenses so that they can receive and communicate by email with residents.
For the test I used Microsoft Outlook email server and enabled both delivery and read receipt requests so that I could see who had read my message.
I received 16 notifications within the 24 hour time limit I had set for the test. Two messages were automated replies telling me that the email could not be read as they had either ‘not had their email setup’ or was ‘unavailable at this time.’ One message informed me that the email address could not be delivered due to a system error at EBC, twelve messages confirming that the email had been received and read by the addressed councillor and one message telling me that my email had been received but had been deleted without even reading it..!!
Sue.Ingram@eastleigh.gov.uk I am currently unable to access emails.
firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you for your message but my system is not available
email@example.com Unable to deliver message to the following recipients
firstname.lastname@example.org Read by Councillor
email@example.com Read by Councillor
firstname.lastname@example.org Read by Councillor
email@example.com Read by Councillor
firstname.lastname@example.org Read by Councillor
email@example.com Read by Councillor
firstname.lastname@example.org Read by Councillor
email@example.com Read by Councillor
firstname.lastname@example.org Read by Councillor
email@example.com Read by Councillor
firstname.lastname@example.org Read by Councillor
email@example.com Read by Councillor
firstname.lastname@example.org Deleted without being read