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Council marketing spend more than $10m

Last updated 11:51 10/04/2008

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Auckland City Council is spending up to $12 million a year telling residents about its plans and policies.

But an independent review into the communications and marketing team couldn’t pin down exactly how much was spent.

Spending was estimated at between $10m and $12m, more than double the department’s $5.4m budget. The extra $5m to $7m was included under budgets for other council departments.

Deputy mayor David Hay says the report has good suggestions on how to better manage the money under one team.

The review by public relations consultant Cedric Allan also showed room for cost efficiencies and savings, he says.

"The first priority is to get more effective spending and coming from that you would hope we could have a reduction in costs," he says.

City Vision councillors are also backing the report’s recommendations, which include cutting back the 500 brochures and flyers produced every year.

Leila Boyle says the 38 communications and marketing staff could be better used, and outside contracting could be scaled back.

"The staff have significant skills that are not being used to council’s advantage," she says.

"Surely we can keep all of this type of work in house and have council staff do it?"

The city council’s annual contract with advertising and design firm Ogilvy Metro, who
produced the contro-
versial new logo, is worth $4.1m.

The report says council’s spending on communications and marketing is not out of line with other organisations of similar size, but noted it had never been reviewed.

It found the group’s 38 staff and 10 contractors have "significant skills".

Their core work involves producing weekly flyer City Scene, the draft annual plan and other public plans, media, market research, publicising council’s work and managing public feedback and consultation.

Recommendations were to reduce the number of brochures, streamline processes, and account for
work for other departments. Salaries and contracts should be independently reviewed to make sure council isn’t paying above market rates.

Chief executive David Rankin and staff have been asked to report back to next month’s finance committee meeting.

The communications review cost $15,000.

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- Auckland City Harbour News

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