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Council charge for “guide to joining the social media revolution”

Posted on - 27th June, 2011 - 9:55am | Author - | Posted in - People

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Preston City Council have launched a ‘Social Media Toolkit’, priced at £199.

The 168-page document is available to order on the council website, and describes itself as “a complete guide to joining the social media revolution”.

The toolkit (a preview of which is available for free) is designed for public sector and non-profit organisations and will focus mainly on reputation, as well as a guide for social media use by elected members.

Stephen Parkinson, Head of Communications at Preston City Council, said: “We become aware that whilst there is much information available about social media, it has not really been brought together “under one roof” and written in such a way that is tailored and specific to local government”.

“Local government is generally speaking quite cautious. We think we can help other councils use social media in a more useful and productive way”.

Asked how the council came to the decision to offer the Toolkit for £199, he said: “As a team we have taken a £50,000 budget hit which has meant scrapping our community magazine, “The Prestonian”.

“If there was someway as a team we could generate income, then this would significantly enhance the business case for retaining the current staffing levels of the communication team.

“We looked at how much training courses were, and of course travel expenses. Too high and no one would buy, and too low people would think that it is not worth buying, so that is how we settled on £199”.

The decision has sparked some criticism. In a blog post written by Dave Briggs of Kind of Digital, some comments support the decision while others have questioned it.

Mike Rawlins, of Talk about Local, said: “There may be some value to this document, but I won’t be paying £199+VAT to find out.

“I think with all due respect Preston City Council have got the price point wrong, very wrong.

“We have seen it many many times before where someone has come up with the genius idea of bottling a free product and trying to flog it on”.

A request has been sent to Preston Council for more information about the toolkit under the Freedom of Information Act, you can view it and track its progress here.

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