Special issue – Marketing government and the public sector

2003 Volume 8, Issue 2 May

Title and abstract or introduction Author(s)
Editorial: Broadening the concept of political marketing Marketing is permeating a wide range of institutions within the political arena. Changes in the political market have led organizations such as parties and local councils to use marketing. The traditional attitude of ‘we know best’ is no longer accepted by the public whether they be voters or local tax-payers. Marketing has permeated our universities, our hospitals, social services, the police, local councils, parliaments, voluntary organizations, the media and even the monarchy. It is being used by such organizations to consult the public to design policy, organisation, institutional rules and leadership. Such organizations are inherently political – they are linked to government and non-profit – and were traditionally studied only by scholars of political science. But the increasing marketisation of politics had called for a broadening of the study political marketing to reflect the ever-increasing practice. Jennifer Lees-Marshment
Why politics needs marketingThis paper examines the survey evidence for the low standing of politics, politicians and political institutions in the mind of the British public, and discusses its consequences. Present public opinion towards political parties in Britain, and towards politicians in general, is predominantly negative. Politicians are distrusted, to a considerably greater extent than can be explained solely by their bad press. Nor are the public very familiar with politicians or political institutions. Yet it can be shown that in general (and not only in the political field) “familiarity breeds favourability, not contempt”. This may be feeding through into hostility towards the entire sector – not only the strictly “political” but other institutions such as public services which the public associates with politics or government. Roger Mortimore
Nasty or NICE? The National Institute for Clinical Excellence and Technology AssessmentThis paper explores the political dynamics that have surrounded the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) since its creation in 1999. Using theories of political marketing, the research presented here explains the behaviour of NICE in the technology appraisal process as the result of the pressures to pursue different marketing strategies. It finds that organisations can follow multiple strategies of political marketing depending upon the identity of their target audience. The government originally designed NICE to pursue a “product-oriented” strategy based upon its biomedical expertise. However, in the face of resistance from stakeholders (pharmaceutical companies and patient groups) NICE has begun to pursue a more “market-oriented” strategy. Using analysis of the NICE decision-making procedures and an empirical analysis of NICE guidances and appeals decisions, this paper demonstrates how NICE garners information from and is responsive to the interests of its target audiences. Mark E Duckenfield
Higher Education: Marketing in a Quasi-commercial Service IndustryThe UK Government is promoting Widening Participation and asking Universities to develop their student intake by 50% of 18-30 year-olds by 2010. The financing of these changes is encouraging a marketing emphasis shift, as funding is reduced and alternative revenue methods sought. Traditional marketing of charitable educational institutions sought to ensure sufficient student enrolments for solely government funded core activities. Further marketing is now seen within quasi-commercial activities. This paper investigates the need for a further marketing approach to satisfy these Government policy changes. Using the Comparative Method, this paper looks at the complexity of the issues around US and UK higher education and their revenue value conflicts, marketing perspectives, and finally the differences in perspectives and expectations between commerce and education. As the matter is current and ongoing, the main form of collecting evidence is through personal interview and recent media releases. Mari Brookes
Best value, Partnerships and Relationship Marketing in Local GovernmentThis paper contends that relationship marketing can enhance the nature of partnerships in local government. It considers firstly the development of Best Value, with particular emphasis on partnerships and collaborative working. The development of relationship marketing and its definitions are acknowledged along with a selection of related issues. Two taxonomies of relationship marketing are then considered which appear to have particular relevance to local government. The notion of trust is singled out for attention and possible applications of relationship marketing are then offered. The conclusion presents a synthesis of collaborative working and relationship marketing and a nascent model showing the possible facilitating role of relationship marketing. Patricia Rees and Hanne Gardner
Government advertising and the creation of national mythology: the Canadian CaseGovernment advertising in Canada has a long history and has been an important adjunct in fostering values of national unity. This paper examines several significant campaigns: early 20th century immigration advertising; patriation of the Canadian constitution in the 1980s and more recently Olympic advertising in 1998. It attempts to demonstrate that the use of state advertising in Canada is unique in helping foster a view of Canadian citizenship and the development of national myths. Moreover, advertising in Canada has been a way to respond to the claims of a vocal sub-minority. Jonathan Rose
Customer-oriented government communication: The Flemish customer contact centre for public informationThis article describes the Flemish customer contact centre for government information (‘The Flemish Infoline’) as an example of marketing in the public sector. First we define the term ‘customer contact centre’ and describe the objectives and main characteristics of The Flemish Infoline. We then point out the three reasons for setting up The Flemish Infoline in 1999: the complicated Belgian institutional landscape, the unprofessional telephone traffic handling and service, and the lack of knowledge about citizens’ information needs. Finally, we apply Kotler’s 4 P’s concept to our case, and we put the relevant stages from Lees-Marshment’s political marketing orientations into one integrated scheme in order to understand the functioning of The Flemish Infoline. Based on the literature and on an in-depth interview with the project head of The Flemish Infoline, we demonstrate that marketing techniques can be used in contact centres for public information, but we also illustrate some important differences with those of the profit sector, such as the available amount of customers’ personal data, the level of call operator’s skills and the degree of the heterogeneity of questions. Further research on information needs and contact centres, and the extension towards one ‘umbrella’ contact centre for government information in Belgium are recommended. Dave Gelders and Michel Walrave
Polls poles apart! The political, research and ethical lessons from the use of opinion polls for and against hunting in Britain Pressure groups use opinion polls to help further political agendas, as in the case of hunting with dogs. The authors evaluate the two types of polls that have featured in the campaigning: “scientific” (representative) polls and “straw” polls. The shortcomings of straw polls are well known and the new problem of “piling in” where pressure groups direct their supporters to such polls is described, raising a number of potential ethical issues. The apparent discrepancy in “scientific” opinion polls commissioned by the two sides of the debate is examined and an attempt to reconcile the differences is made. The authors’ observations raise questions about the value and limitations of polling as well as technical and ethical issues the polling industry and professional bodies need to address. Clive Nancarrow

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