Your quick guide to purdah and social media

November 29, 2019

As election time approaches communications teams in local government or the civil service change their approach to make sure the rule of purdah is upheld. 

What is purdah?

Purdah is the time between when an election is announced and the final results given out. There are strict rules governing public servants during this time to ensure public resources aren’t used, or appear to be used, for party political purposes during. 

The period of purdah means local government and civil servants must not carry out their duties in a way which casts doubt on their impartiality during a time of heightened political sensitivity. 

How does this affect your communications and social media?

Communications and social media must be impartial and factual during purdah. This means press releases, email newsletters, web pages and your official social media accounts - plus  those of any identified staff and councillors too. It also covers third party or partnership social media - such as a business partnership account your council supports and contributes to. 

Most communications teams are used to changing their political quotes to those from officers during this time but what it means for activity on social media and your website can feel less clear. 

What do I need to know about social media and purdah?

Purdah doesn’t mean you need to stop using social media completely but like with other communication channels you need to be mindful of the rules and make sure your activity abides by them. 

It’s a good idea to make sure anyone posting to social media is aware of when purdah rules apply and what they are and you’ve also let the public know they may see a change in how you use social media during this time. 

Five rules for using social media during purdah

Here are our five points to guide communications teams and others using public sector social media during purdah: 

  • Make sure anyone with access has a clear understanding of purdah rules and dates
  • Make sure you’ve posted an update to remind followers the account is an official communications channel governed by purdah - and share a link explaining what purdah means
  • Don’t post, engage with or share anything from political parties, politicians and their representatives or anything expressing political opinion
  • Don’t post, engage with or share anything which could be considered politically controversial
  • Don’t undertake any major social media campaign during purdah - unless it can be shown to have been in the forward diary before the election was announced or expected. 

Book a quick online walkthrough of MusterPoint to see how it can help you save time, money and resources during purdah. Full oversight of all your social channels and full control over all that gets published.

Where to get more information on communications and social media in purdah

Read a very easy to understand full guide on Comms2Point0

Read the Local Government Association guide on communications during purdah

For detailed guidance you can download the election guidance for civil servants from GOV.UK

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