2020 is proving to be more of an experience than a calendar date. The coronavirus has radically altered how we live and work.
When I first decided to stand for the role of LGcomms chair late last year, the coronavirus outbreak had not begun. There was no way of knowing that by the time of the AGM a few weeks ago we’d all be meeting on a computer screen, rather than in Birmingham as planned. One of the team dialled in from a campervan on their drive, a very visual reminder of how many of us are working in the most unexpected ways and places.
As has been written so often, we are living in challenging times. From wherever we are now based, we’ve been using our communication and strategy skills to champion, protect and serve in ways that we could not have imagined outside a table-top exercise not so long ago.
In public sector communications, demands have increased. Our role in shaping messages to reassure residents, signposting to services and supporting staff has rarely been so vital.
We’ve also had to move fast and work innovatively. Campaign planning has been accelerated into days, or sometimes hours, to make sure people have access to food, healthcare and know where to go for help. Online resources have been transformed, printed advice distributed to many thousands of households and the human stories of the crisis shared widely.
A key strength of LGcomms is our support network, linking across the country to share ideas and work together. Right now we’re running a survey with our partners the PRCA to find out what the biggest coronavirus related challenges are for our organisations’ members. We’re asking how LGcomms can help and support members in the months ahead as we move towards recovery. We’ll look at how to provide information and training online while restrictions remain in place and plan ahead for when we’re able to gather again.
A new LGcomms website will be launched by the end of the month with new resources and space to showcase success. We know LGcomms members are achieving great things under the most unusual of circumstances. We’ll be sharing more details soon and your views will help shape the site as it develops over the months ahead.
I look forward to speaking with you to hear your views in the year ahead. At LGcomms we’re ready for the rest of this changeful 2020, whatever it may bring.
Stay safe and well.