I’m thrilled to announce that the 2021 Public Service Communications Academy (or ‘Academy’), organised by LGcomms and the Government Communication Service (GCS), will take place this November under the theme Partnerships, Performance and People. Three essential elements for effective communications that we all need to develop and look after.
The influence of the effective communications professional has been evident during the last fast paced 18 months, with communications playing a vital role in the pandemic. The role of partnership and collaboration has been vitally important and should be fostered. Our annual conference has always been about networking and forging partnerships with colleagues from different organisations. We’ll be exploring how the pandemic has fostered collaboration locally, regionally and nationally. We’ll look at how partnerships can make a positive difference in major comms around climate change as well as how to manage comms in a crisis on the frontline.
At the heart of Academy is the opportunity for learning and improving performance. It’s a chance for looking at what we do and why so we can take new ideas back to our own patch to show measurable outcomes in our own work, whether as part of a large team or as a solo communications lead. This year we need to build on the skills we have been demonstrating during the Covid crisis to continue a journey of lifelong learning through constant innovation, evidence-based decision making and reputation enhancing actions. We’ll consider the rise of the internal communications lead as a driving force in our organisations and find out more about the essential practical requirements of accessibility regulations that make sure our messaging can reach everyone. We’ll also be considering what the future holds and how we can make sure we’re all maximising our potential in the communications sector.
None of this is possible without the right people in well looked after teams. The benefits of a diverse and inclusive workforce have been well documented. Yet there is much work to do in terms of building a workforce where equality and opportunity for all is the norm. This has been compounded by the isolation some have felt during the pandemic, where development and learning have been stifled at times by working alone. There has certainly been a divide between those with a comfortable home set up and those perched with a laptop on the end of a bed in a shared house. Working from home has been shown to be perfectly possible though and this can be empowering for many. Right now we’ve never had a better opportunity for looking at how we can work to our best abilities while ensuring well-being for all. Academy sessions will include the challenges around returning to the workplace; how to recruit and retain diverse talent; and looking after mental health of ourselves and our teams.
Academy 2021 will take place on Tuesday 23 and Wednesday 24 November. It will be a virtual event with the option to buy tickets for either or both days.
Alix Macfarlane is the Chair of LGcomms and the Head of Communications & Engagement for West Sussex County Council.