Enhancing the image of local government

This paper initially explores the current climate regarding public perceptions of local government effectiveness. There is a subsequent discussion of the general field of public relations from the context of historic and current practice as well as in both the private and public sectors. The paper further discusses the results of two surveys conducted in Santa Barbara, California: one given to front line public employees, the other to a random sampling of the public. The results confirmed that the public was generally dissatisfied with local government but not necessarily due to poor contacts with public employees. The front line survey also revealed dissatisfaction with local government as an employer. Employees also expressed much frustration in their dealings with the public. The survey responses, coupled with on-site observations, led to the conclusions that general public input must be actively sought, the public needs more information regarding the availability and use of services, and public employees must be provided with more information regarding their jobs and their organizations. The paper outlines a plan to address these conclusions beginning with the need for a “close to the citizen” attitude shift.