Five comms reflections as we head into winter

“What we know is a drop, what we don’t know is an ocean”

If like me you’ve been following Dark the slow burning, German time travel, philosophy head scratcher on Netflix you’ll recognise that quote.

It’s probably not the time to be taking a cerebral look at quantum physics through a series of labyrinthine, multiple universe plots, but the last six months has felt like a bit of an infinite time loop so we may as well embrace it.

As we move into the second wave and a local lockdown where I am, here are some reflections on a on a few things that I think feel important.

First principles

If this crisis has taught me anything it hasn’t been about fancy new tools or revolutionary thinking, it’s been getting the basics right and doing them well. Thinking about the fundamentals of good communications and delivering on them has never been more important.

Simplicity

I bang on about this a lot and this week the nudge unit are the latest to highlight the importance of simplicity in good communications (See here https://www.bi.team/blogs/covid-19-prevention-too-much-information/ )

There’s an awful lot of guff talked about our industry, but the ability to work out how to best communicate with all your audiences and tell the right story in a straightforward way is still at the heart of what we do. There’s an absolute beauty in simplicity, which is why it’s so hard.

Sometimes less is more

After the shock of the first wave wore off one of the things I realised was that over communication is often just as big a problem as not communicating at all. Think how many emails and messages you had from companies you hadn’t used for years when Covid first broke out. The sheer volume of information is totally overwhelming and finding the signal among the noise becomes impossible. 

In the old days the media would provide individuals with something of a filter but now we’re completely overwhelmed with information, often with little idea about its accuracy. Because there’s no curation and not much else to talk about everyone is now an expert or armchair epidemiologist. Maybe trust is more important than ever, albeit much harder won. 

Network power

Nobody has all the answers – grab the learning where you canand rely on your networks. Informal networks like comms2point0, the NHS Providers Comms leads group or Facebook headspacers have been invaluable in sharing and supporting each other as communications professionals. 

The importance of internal comms


I really worry about the impact of the crisis on NHS staff as we now ask them to go again. During the crisis I’ve had roles at two different NHS organisations – one smaller and centralised, the other large and dispersed – but one thing that has really struck me is the importance of getting the internal communications rhythm and volume just right.

There’s also something about providing hope, recognition and support through the organisational communications drumbeat.

See you on the other side…..

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