In its 2006 budget document, the preceding Government of Italy (Berlusconi’s) issued an order to public sector organizations to slash all 2004 public relations and communication expenses by 50 per cent.
Ferpi, the Italian Federation of Public Relations (http://www.ferpi.it/), promoted the formation of a coalition including:
°Unicom, the association of small and medium size advertising companies (http://www.unicom.it/)
to provoke a public debate on “communication, waste or value?” by organizing an ongoing road-show throughout the country, in local partnerships with politicians, public and private institutions, social networks, non profit organizations and media, while collecting signatures to present a new policy option to the new government (Prodi’s).
A typical grassroot bottom up public relations program.
But the more interesting part, rather than the tool, is the content of the option.
The coalition option agrees that too many resources are being improperly invested on communication in the public sector.
However, rather than across the board and indiscriminated cuts, it suggests that the Government issue, in the context of its 2007 budget, an ordinance in which those cuts remain the same only for public sector organizations who are unable to publicly account for the value their communication activities have produced to society and, to the contrary, a special fund be centrally created to openly and publicly stimulate those public sector organizations who are able to do so, thus increasing their existing budgets.
The project has been sofar presented and debated in cities like Milano, Rome and Padova and is gaining both central and local consensus in the country’s new political majority, whose electoral platform called for a substantial reduction of public sector expenses but not indiscriminately and when, by next October, the coalition will have succeeded in adopting simple and understandable guidelines to define evaluation methods for communication policy, program and single initiatives, it is possible that the proposal will be adopted.
The road-show-debate has also come up with other relevant ideas, the more interesting one so far being a call to Parliament, National and Local Governments to include a specific item on communication needs in all public work tenders.
Are similar programs being activated in other countries that you know of?
Do you think this idea is a valuable one for the growth and future of the better face of out profession?