In a week that started with a man doing unusual things with a flare outside Wembley and ended with 50,000 new daily covidcases, it was good to take an hour out to think about tomorrow and bask in the possibility of future days to come.
We’d gathered a group of public sector comms people from across the North East (virtually) to a relative oasis of calm and think strategically about where our work is going.
A huge thanks to Dan Slee who guided us through his seven trends for communicators and very kindly avoided any mention of the latest travails of Newcastle United.
We had a fantastic discussion between the group and one of the key things that struck me was how much the old fundamentals still apply despite the ever-changing world.
With all the new channels and their latest bells and whistles it seems many of the old rules hold true – know your audience, tell the story, time it right and follow your instincts on human interest.
Dan has a brilliant data set based on information from OFCOM and his own research with set out in real detail where people go for news and how they access it.
One of his more worrying findings was the tidal wave of stress, anxiety and isolation that many people working in the public sector are reporting.
The mental toll of managing corporate social media accounts and the abuse that comes with it provided a stark reminder of the darker side of human nature at the moment.
He stressed how the national messages on covid only really cut through when there is a local spokesperson or a regional accent to drive it home. Something I’ve been banging on about for the past 12 months (see previous postcard on covidcomms blogs)
Another factor during Covid has been the starring role of traditional media for trusted, curated information about the pandemic.
The continuing success of short, accessible videos and the use of WhatsApp as a targeted information channel were also highlights of the session.
In Northumbria we have been producing blogs and podcasts as part of a wider reflection of what’s going on and they have proved a hugely popular public and staff communications tool.
We’ve now got more than 100 NHS staff talking in their own voice about their roles which has been very powerful in delivering key messages that are relatable and empathetic.
I have to say there’s a bit of a sense of Déjà vu around the NHS at the moment so keep a hold wherever you are.