It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post. Time, energy and mental space have all played a role in that.
And above all COVID.
From March to June the initial crisis response was intense. Many of us in the public sector worked hard to maintain effective communication channels and stakeholder relations. Often working long hours and dealing with uncertainty and confusion.
When that initial crisis period passed, the work demands didn’t diminish but we were able to settle in to a kind of predictable rhythm.
Now with a second wave looming and the potential for another crisis period, I wanted to reflect on posts I’d written in March and May and think about some key ways of working that will help us cope over the next few months.
Be clear about what the organisation’s priority is during the next few months and how effective communication will help achieve this. It can be tempting to do too much with an unclear focus. But to make anything achievable and not overwork / burnout, work will need to be targetted.
Clear, concise and consistent message
During the pandemic, confusion has been one of the biggest problems we’ve faced. If we are going to ensure our audience gets the information they need, in a way that’s helpful, we need to ensure we don’t add to that confusion. Understand and develop an effective message and stick to it.
But stay flexible
Stick to a consistent message until the facts on the ground change what you need to say. A period of crisis presents rapid changes so while it’s important to stay consistent where possible, don’t be so rigid that you can’t change your focus when it needs to.
Insight is key
During a crisis, understanding how your stakeholders are feeling, what they’re thinking and what they plan to do is vital. Our role as PR professionals in presenting this to our organisation shouldn’t be underplayed. It will allow senior leaders to make the right decision at the right time.
Effective stakeholder relationships not only enable us to understand the context we’re operating in but they’ll also enable us to act in partnership to have a greater impact. Often in a period of crisis a collective voice can cut through the noise and shine a spotlight on an issue that needs to be seen.
Above all look after each other
But the most important thing is wellbeing. The past six months have been hard, professionally and personally. And the next few months will be tough again. There will be demands to work over and above. Among all this we need to look out for each other, control expectations so the demands don’t become too much, create space away from the work, ensure people have the support they need to manage difficult home circumstances and be empathetic.